Where it Began
Lesley Small has over 35 years of experience working in various animal fields, but has always had a special bond with the world’s smallest bear species, the Sun Bear. She has worked with Sun Bears for over 20 years and has traveled to many Sun Bear rescue facilities worldwide.
There are many fantastic conservation projects that are committed to helping Sun Bears in Southeast Asia, but after a trip to Sumatra in 2013, she was shocked to see that although many bears were being confiscated by the government from the wildlife trade, there was no specialised Sun Bear facility to take them in.
While many adult Sun Bears can be released after undergoing rehabilitation, many are not suitable for release. The Sun Bears that cannot be released normally end up in holding pens, often ending up in small cages indefinitely with little stimulation.
Lesley returned to Australia with the goal to create a rescue and conservation centre to ensure rescued Sun Bears in Sumatra have a safe home and specialised care.
Lesley brought together people within her network of passionate, like-minded people in the Conservation industry who were committed to making her vision a reality, and the Sumatran Sun Bear Team (SSBT) was born.