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Sun bears remain one of the most threatened bear species in the world. Sumatran Sun Bear Teams (SSBT) goal is to establish the first dedicated, specialist sun bear rescue and rehabilitation facility in Sumatra. When two orphaned cubs came to our attention, we knew we had to act to fundraise and build our first enclosure for these innocent creatures. SSBT founder Lesley Small was visiting Sumatra in early 2020 she met Uca, a young cub, who at the time was just a few months old. She was in government care after being poached illegally from the wild. Sun bears are prey to many threats including deforestation, habitat loss and poaching which is still rife in Sumatra. Poachers will flush out mothers who are killed for their body parts and bile, whilst taking defenceless cubs and selling them on the illegal wildlife trade. This is an all too familiar story. Luckily Uca was found and brought into government care.

Meeting Uca for the first time
Uca when she was young enough to walk with carers

SSBT saw right away that Uca required immediate attention and TLC so worked with local authorities to ensure this. Uca was initially being kept in a small cage so alongside the Indonesian Species Conservation Program (ISCP) we arranged a larger enclosure, which also contained behavioural enrichment to engage her. We also worked closely with Uca’s keeper to tailor an appropriate diet for her. Sun bear cubs require round the clock attention. Cubs normally receive nutrient rich fatty milk from their mothers and typically need about 20% of their bodyweight in food per day. The next best thing is milk by the bottle which Uca gladly guzzled down.

Meanwhile thoughts turned to devising a more permanent situation for Uca. As plans were made – unfortunately slowed down by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic – another cub came to SSBT’s attention.

Little Jessy came under the auspices of Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) located In Medan, Northern Sumatra. Jessy was clearly traumatised by the separation from her mother clinging to her teddy bear and suckling on it for comfort. SSBT were able to ensure she had proper care with funds for a dedicated caregiver. Furthermore, SSBT formed a partnership with OIC to build a permanent enclosure for Jessy, and Uca, to live in. SSBT’s goals and Lesley’s dreams were finally becoming reality. 

Jessy shortly after being rescued and placed in Government care

Like SSBT, Uca was not idle in this year as she was taken out to the forest to act like her wild counterparts. Cubs normally learn everything from their mothers, spending the first two years of their lives from them. We strive to be a suitable substitute. Wild sun bears spend the majority of their time either looking for food or climbing up into the tree canopies.  Uca shows signs of foraging and displays natural instincts. She inspects logs for hidden delights and uses her long-curved claws to tear into them. She’s a sub-adult now, and unable to be worked in with, we are looking forward to getting her out of her cage and to our enclosure once it’s completed. Uca, however, even found time to become star of the children’s book by Martin Hill “A Sun Bear in Trouble,” available via Amazon or directly from the publisher at She is growing into quite the character and we continue to work with local authorities to see her transferred to our first facility.

Uca when young enough to be out and exhibit natural behviours

An appropriate sun bear enclosure was designed and rendered by Philip Stubley and Asha Kaur. This incorporated two connecting dens with a tunnel adjoining to a third “quarantine” den. These dens all lead onto an outdoor area that include a climbing structure and pond feature. Electric hot wire will be installed around the tops of the outdoor fence to ensure the bears (and humans) security.

After a site was selected, costing and logistics were worked out and designs were updated accordingly. SSBT had enough money to get construction started but more will be needed to finish it.  Since the site is in a relatively remote area, work began quickly to transfer materials as early in the year as possible to avoid the rainy season slowing this process down.

Ground was finally broken mid-2021 with foundations laid and a water tower installed. Building the dens and the outer perimeter fence followed swiftly afterwards. One small detail we were pleasantly surprised by was the green “forest” colour scheme OIC went for on the dens. When Jessy came for an inspection, she seemed to approve of the colour (and everything else) which made all the efforts worthwhile.

Construction continues and Jessy continues to blossom under the care of her keeper, Willis. Jessy has become very comfortable with her surroundings and now slides up and down trees with no problem. One of her favourite fruits is papaya. Sun bears enjoy a varied diet of fruits, honey, bee larvae and insects and so does Jessy!

The enclosure is almost completed but still requires some finishing touches to ensure it is up to the standards we have set ourselves. We continue to raise funds to ensure Jessy and Uca get nothing but the best.

Through cooperation, generous donations and determination we can alleviate the suffering of Sun Bears.

Jessy is still at an age where she can be walked and spends more time with keepers but is also getting used to our first on-site enclosure in North Sumatra.

Much work remains to be done. This is only the beginning.

THE PRICE OF TOURISM! The Sumatran Sun Bear Team have been receiving many reports about 3 Sun Bears and elephants in a touristic facility in Bali who are struggling since Covid hit with feeding and care. When there are no tourists there is no money to care for the animals that have been used to entertain tourists. We had our friends on the ground there visit and they were truly shocked. The Sun Bears are starving and so are the elephants that are with them. We are now making a plan for them which might involve long term commitments and therefore long term funds: but firstly we wish to reach out for support on the ground to feed them!- Team of animal rescues and conservationists from JAAN, SSBT and ISWMP teamed up to help these animals, join us on this mission and bear with us. Pulling together as one for the animals. PLEASE SUPPORT! support can be send through ; (australia) 💚 jakarta animal aid network (indonesia) (USA) 💚 WildlifeWatchDogs (netherlands) 💚 mention operation : THE PRICE OF TOURISM with your donationOr SSBT directly

A Sun Bear in Trouble by Martin D. Hill

A beautiful book about a beautiful Sun Bear called Uca. Amusing and educational this book will warm the hearts of many young and old readers. It’s a perfect, delicate way to introduce children to the issues that Sun Bears and other wild animals are facing. You’ll love Uca who is named after a real little Sun Bear who is now an orphan after being taken from the wild. There’s real Sun Bear facts that are easy to understand by readers young and old also.

The SSBT are grateful that we had the opportunity to work with the dedicated and passionate author Martin D. Hill. The illustrations byIole Eulalia Rosa are adorable.

For purchases, if you’re in the UK go to or outside of the UK email

During March 2020, it was an honour and a privilege for SSBT to be invited by Stay Wild to talk to the children at Lau Damak school. The children were very keen to get involved in discussion about the wildlife that lives and breathes right on their doorstep. With their district bordering the wildlife hotspot of Sumatra; the Gunung Leuser National Park they were very interested in learning about the Sun Bears and other wildlife that live there.

The Founder of SSBT presented the children with bi-lingual information brochures that explained the benefits of Sun Bears in their natural forests. We took along some prepared colouring pages, donated books, coloured pencils and laminated informative picture pages on wild animals of the world. The bi-lingual brochures could be taken home so that their parents can see what the children have learnt and we hope that both children and parents will be more inclined to want to help preserve this species.

We have been given feed-back since visiting the children that they are now keen to help this little known species. This gives us hope that we are on the right track.

During 2019, the SSBT had been alerted to the plight of a Durian farmer. He had reported that wild sun bears were taking his fallen fruit. The SSBT visited the farm and established that a sun bear had been on the property and had had left (faecal) evidence. The durian season is important to the local people as it makes up a large component of their annual ways to make a living. At times like this, a Sun Bear is at risk and very vulnerable being at the wrong side of human conflict.

We immediately gave the farmer some tools to make noises to scare the bears away from the safety of their hut and a reasonable amount of compensation while we prepared to give him a permanent solution. With funds that have been donated or raised by SSBT we were able to supply a solar powered electric fence. It was installed with help from Stay Wild who also worked with the farmer to clear the fence line.

SSBT visited the site after the durian season and were very pleased to hear that after the fence was installed, there were no durians taken by Sun Bears and he had a successful season.

Working with the local people is an important component of Conservation. The people and the bears share or use mutual habitat at times and we want to see this occurring in harmony. We will always endeavor to help create harmony between the people and the amazing Sun Bears

Thank you to everyone who donated to the Jo Jo campaign. A picture of a sun bear in a Zoo in Medan attracted a lot of negative attention. We would like to thank the management of Medan Zoo and the BKSDA for allowing us to work on the sun bear exhibit for a positive outcome. We had some great, talented volunteers; Michael and Lauren Spence, Stay Wild team Bukit and Triyadi, the guys from Sun bear sun screen and the Charlie Bucket and Co all helping Lesley Small from SSBT. Also thanks to Rudi from ISCP for facilitating this project. We hope that all of the generous donors are happy with what we achieved, We know that the bears liked what we did that included, hammocks, bed boards, fresh logs, foraging pits, a climbing structure and Aussie dog toys. We hope that all 5 bears get to experience the exhibit. All five bears each received new elevated bed boards, logs and Aussie dog balls in their dens also. Thank you again to the generous donors.

Saving Sun bears seminar

July 10, 2019

We are very grateful to everyone who attended our recent seminar at the Canada Bay Club. With our speakers; Lesley Small, Larry Vogelnest and Siew Te Wong everyone who was there now understands the sun bear more and the reasons why it needs to be saved in Sumatra. Thank you to everyone who not only attended, but everyone who donated prizes to help us raise our much needed start-up funds for our future rescue and conservation centre.



Thank you Pall Zillmann for putting on a great night in November 2018!! Paul raised over $1100 for our cause. It really will go towards us getting to our goal of Saving Sun Bears in Sumatra!! Thank you from all of us at SSBT and thanks for all of your friends support also .

Sun Bear Speed Trivia Brisbane
All donations and proceeds raised going towards the work of Sumatran Sun Bear Team, preventing and relieving the suffering of Sun Bears in Sumatra.

As well as trivia there will be games, live music, raffles and lots of fun, so bring the whole family along!

When: Saturday 10th November

Where: Hope St Cafe
170 Boundary St
West End QLD 4101

Time : 5 PM.

Tickets: No ticket needed – just pay on the day!
See here for more information

See you bear!


Thank you!! 


On the 24th November 2018, We are very pleased to announce that The National Zoo and Aquarium, Canberra raised over $6,700 with a Trivia night. This is our first fund raiser that has been held for us to help us achieve our goals to help the Sun Bears in Sumatra and get us closer to building a Conservation and Rescue Centre. Thank you to everyone involved, you all went to so much effort before and on the night. Thank you Caitlin Gilchrist for arranging everything that you did and worked with such a great team. Thank you also to the Canberra Labor Club Belconnen for donating the use of the venue, your venue and the staff were just amazing. Thank you also to everyone who donated prizes, worked on the night and who made everyone feel welcome.