2020 started out with much to celebrate. The one-hectare forest bear enclosure was finished. It had been kitted out with hammocks, platforms, other enrichment and was ready for occupation. Malayan sun bear orphan Buddy was going to share it with other orphan bears: his best friend, male Sunny, along with three others, females Cora and Hitam and male Kacong. OFI began the process of finding and training new staff to help ensure the bears received the best possible care. The enclosure is located near the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine (OCCQ) close to a forested area.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak with cases confirmed in Indonesia, plans to move Buddy and his friends were abruptly halted. While the sun bears themselves are likely to be safe from the virus itself, the wellbeing of their caregivers and the orangutans had to be taken into account. OFI management quickly implemented a program to keep the risk of infection to staff and animals at the OCCQ, and all forest camps, as low as possible. (More on this can be found on the OFI Australia website.) With limited staff (as many staff members are in self-quarantine at home with pay) and preventive measures in place, it is likely to be, at least, some time before we can safely move the bears to their new home. We thank you for your understanding and continued support.
Oblivious to all this, Buddy remains his usual carefree self. He readily greets any visitors to his current enclosure eager to engage with them. Don’t worry we don’t allow visitor interaction with juvenile/adolescent bears! Buddy makes up for his lack of claws with very sharp teeth. Sugar cane is a fantastic treat on a hot day. Both Buddy and Sunny grab one between their paws and roll onto their backs, settling in to inspect and demolish this sugar treat of a food. One isn’t enough for Buddy. As soon as he is finished demolishing his length of sugar cane, Buddy sniffs around his friend Sunny to see if he can get some more. Buddy’s eternal enthusiasm shows no sign of wavering. At this time, we all have to embrace his optimistic spirit and look forward to brighter pandemicless times ahead. Each passing day is a day nearer to Buddy and his friends ending up in their forever home. Once this is achieved it will give us all cause for celebration. We will bring sugar cane for all!