photo from Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Imagine you are a baby, unable to feed or care for yourself.
You are in the forest with your mother and she is suddenly shot and killed.
Men storm out of nowhere and quickly butcher her for her valuable body parts -- her feet will be eaten as a delicacy, and her bile will be used as medicine for people in China. What’s left of your mother’s corpse is left to rot on the forest floor.
You may be left to starve, killed by another creature, or, in the best case scenario, taken captive and forced to live in a tiny cage for your entire life as someone’s “pet”.
This is the sad story of young Suria the Sun Bear and her companions at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in the new wildlife documentary Big Dream Little Bears by WildHoop Productions (Howard Jackson and Dr. Audrey Low of Australia).
Luckily, Suria and the other orphaned bears in the film were rescued and brought to BSBCC, where a team of wildlife biologists led by Siew Te Wong study and care for them.
Siew Te Wong and Sun Bear
photo from BSBCC
Although the bears are still kept in cages at BSBCC, Wong’s big dream is to release the bears back into the wild.
Big Dream Little Bears shows Wong and his team readying the bears for their initial release into an enclosed nature preserve. In this protected area, they can learn to adjust to the wild, and still receive food and medical care.
If the bears can successfully adapt to forest life, the hope is that one day they will be released for good back into the wild.
Their release is important, not only for the quality of life for the individual bears, but because their species is endangered.
Each animal that can potentially breed and perpetuate the species is important, when extinction is on the horizon.
Poachers aren’t the only threat to the Sun Bears. The decimation of Borneo’s rain forest is happening at an alarming rate.
The most ancient forest in the world is being cleared to plant palm oil plantations--palm oil is used for cooking, biodiesel and many processed foods consumed in the West. With less forest, there is less food and habitat to go around, and more competition amongst all creatures for precious resources.
rescued Sun Bear
photo from BSBCC
Big Dream Little Bears is a story of human cruelty and uncaring destruction, and it’s also a story of human compassion and hope.
Siew Te Wong and his team work so hard to rescue, protect and study these animals, realizing that their actions could mean the difference between extinction or survival of a species.
The filmmakers gave their time and skills. They funded and produced Big Dream Little Bears themselves and are donating part of the profits to the BSBCC. All understand the urgency of the situation: they are in a race against time, and the odds seem hopeless.
Filmmakers Audrey Low (left) and Howard Jackson (right)
with Siew Te Wong and some of the BSBCC team
photo by Wildhoop Productions
What I took away from Big Dream Little Bears: Every one counts!
What we each do in our lives makes a difference. Every bear makes a difference, and every human. How do we spend our time? What work do we do? What do we buy? What do we eat? Every action, no matter how small, has a consequence, whether we are aware of it or not.
If I truly love Life, I will choose to make mindful choices.
I will choose compassion over cruelty. I will choose hope over despair.
Suria, the littlest bear, steals the show, and I am rooting for her happiness and freedom.
She has lived in her cage for so long, that the outside world is now totally foreign to her. Will she emerge from her cage to touch the earth, and experience life in nature once again, as she deserves? The future of the Sun Bears may depend on it.
And their future may also depend on you and me.
P.S. You may know the filmmaker and presenter in Big Dream Little Bears, Dr. Audrey Low, from the blogging world. She has the blogs, Wildhoop Productions, Papaya Tree Limited and 365 Just Show Up. I am very proud of the work she and her partner, Howard Jackson, have put into this project.