This little sun bear has the best reason wild animals shouldn’t be kept as pets: her pure joy at being reintroduced to the forest she was taken from.
Like many young bears, Kala was a victim of the illegal wildlife trade. Her mother was likely killed by poachers so the little cub could be sold as an exotic pet. Fortunately, the person who bought her quickly surrendered her to officials and she ended up at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) in Malaysia in January, already emaciated and malnourished from her brief time in captivity.
Kala quickly perked up at BSBCC, and carers began to take her out on forest walks in late February. The result was unbridled excitement.
Pictures show the young sun bear looking ecstatic as she explores her newfound freedom. Back in the forest for the first time since she was taken from her mother, the little bear can be seen biting at branches, exploring everything in sight and rolling around on the forest floor in sheer happiness.
“Kala is everything a cub should be — playful, inquisitive and sweet-natured,” BSBCC wrote on its site. “Kala loves spending her time lying on forest floor and grabbing dry leaves or branches to bite and play with. She has become more active and energetic, and her favorite activities include digging, eating soil, and playing.”
BSBCC said Kala enjoys foraging for termites and earthworms to eat. As noted above, she also has a strange but harmless passion for eating soil.
She also appears to be a bit skittish. “When she comes across something unexpected like a millipede or giant ant she is very cautious, shows little interest, and then runs away,” BSBCC writes.
In the wild, Kala would have remained with her mother until she was 2 or 3 years old. Since she was so cruelly snatched away, BSBCC is stepping in to help raise the little sun bear and, hopefully, reintroduce her to the wild.
At the moment, carers are working on teaching the little bear to climb. Sun bears are arboreal, but Kala would become “fussy” whenever workers tried to help her into the trees. So, they built a custom jungle gym for her to play on at home, and gradually become more comfortable with getting off the ground.
And the little bear makes do with what she has. Since Kala has no mother or sibling to wrestle with, she likes to playfully attack carers’ boots with her little claws and teeth.
“Her forest skills are improving day by day,” BSBCC wrote. “We are absolutely delighted that Kala will have the second chance to live in the wild again once she is ready for life in the forest.”
To support Kala’s care, you can make a donation to BSBCC through the group’s website.
You can see more of the little bear’s happy reintroduction to the forest below.