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It’s been a while since my last update…. Sorry about that. The good news is that since I last wrote, four new cages have been installed, as you can see on the pictures.

Oscar, a friendly and energetic young male sun bear who was kept in a small holding cage, was the first to be transferred to one of the four new cages. Then next to him we put in Jono, a lively male who always wants to play. I thought Jono and Oscar would become fiends and play together when we open the partition door between the 2 cages, but I was wrong. Jono just wanted to fight with Oscar, he was so aggressive that after 24 hours we had put Jono back in his old cage. These cages are meant for pairs who get along well. We’ll have to find a new friend for Oscar and another solution for Jono.

One pair that gets along very well is Maria and Fahri. They arrived at Samboja in 2008 as a couple but were separated to avoid breeding. In November 2015 Fahri underwent a vasectomy and he is now reunited with his girl friend since Jan 11th. When they met again for the first time after 7 years of separation, they connected right away like old friends. They are now together again as a couple and will soon be transferred to two new cages that communicate through a partition door, while their old cages can be renovated and used for other bears.


As you can see in the pictures, renovation of the 2 small outdoor enclosures is complete, and Jojo and Feri can now enjoy this new space. To this date, they were never allowed out into these enclosures because they could escape by climbing over the fence. Now however, they are allowed in, they can move around a bit, climb the wooden structures, enjoy the sun and the rain and sleep under the moon if they choose to. Jojo and Feri’s welfare has greatly improved now that they are no longer permanently inside their small dens.

Many other bears are impatient to see their wellbeing improve and we are thus in the process of making 4 new proper size cages. Thanks to all of you for your support and donations. It is thanks to your support that I can help improve the lives of the bears at Samboja.


November 17th was Arkana’s first day out in the renovated 5m x 5m outdoor enclosure. The first thing she did was to climb the wooden structure within the enclosure, sit in the sunlight and smell the breeze. She had a smile on her face. She was finally out of her damp dark walled in cage. It felt good to see Arkana at peace….

Renovation of the second 5m x 5m outdoor is almost finished, and more bears will soon be able to benefit from it. Thank you to all who have donated to make these repairs possible. Thank you to those who will donate. Thank you on behalf of the sun bears.


Jojo, Arkana, Feri are kept in cages which give onto a 5m x 5m outdoor enclosure that they are not allowed into because they are able to climb over the fence and escape. The plan is thus to add a mesh roof to the enclosure and, at the same time, make the fence a little higher. In addition to this, a wooden playground with different enrichment items will be added, as well as a small “pool”.

Once renovated, the 3 bears Jojo, Arkana, Feri will be able to enjoy this new space. Without a doubt, it will be a major improvement to their wellbeing. As you can see on the pictures, renovation work has already begun. The total cost will be about $1300 USD. Any donation to help out is most welcomed. Thank you.

Small improvements

Since my post last week I’ve continued making small improvements to the cages of the sun bears at Samboja Lestari. Oscar, Dawai, Apang, Eric, Jay, Iis, Samsun and Banto have all gotten a small wooden platform to be able to sit and rest on, off the ground. Arkana and Feri each got a new hammock. And Petung, Maria and Fahri received long wooden platforms in their cages.

These little improvements add some comfort to the bears’ lives, but the main problem is that some of the cages are just too small. So my next move will be to make 6 bigger cages for the most needy bears, and to repair 2 existing small outdoor enclosures that measure 5m x 5m so that another 5 bears will be able to go out a little, walk,

stretch, bathe in a small pool and climb the wooden structure that we will build. This of course will have a cost and I’ll let you know how much next week… perhaps you might want to help cover that cost with a donation. Thanks (Patrick Rouxel)

Jojo – one of the sun bears at Samboja Lestari

I arrived at the BOS Samboja Lestari sanctuary in East Kalimantan (Borneo) Indonesia a few days ago. My mission here is to help BOS Foundation build new facilities for its 47 sun bears so that they may all live in decent captive conditions. As I assess the situation and make long-term plans, I also bring immediate care to the most needy bears. Jojo is one of them. In Jojo’s small cage, the only place off the ground is a metal platform where he sleeps, but the cage is so narrow that he can’t stretch out. So today I made a hammock out of old fire hose and the staff helped me put it up. It’s just a hammock, but for Jojo it’s a lot.


Since 2004, Patrick Rouxel, filmmaker for conservation and founder of Sun Bear Outreach, has been producing documentaries independently about the extraordinary biodiversity of the tropical rainforest and its destruction by human activity. Since 2012 he has focused his filming work on the sun bears of Indonesia with the objective of raising awareness locally and internationally. To watch all of Patrick’s films go to:

In 2016, Patrick Rouxel, released a film called “Life is One” on the return to life in the wild for 3 sun bear cubs. The story of these 3 cubs highlights how all life on earth is connected and how we owe respect and compassion to those with whom we share the planet.

Life is One – 52 min – 2016 – Tawak Pictures


The film “Beruang Madu” (Honey bear) and was made as an educational tool for the Indonesian public, in collaboration with Dr Gabriella Fredriksson, who runs an educational centre called Kawasan Wisata Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup (KWLPH) next to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. “Beruang Madu” is screened several times a week at KWLPH and seen by about 1000 kids a month. It can also be viewed on Youtube.

Beruang Madu – 12 min – 2012 – Tawak Pictures




Between August 2011 and September 2014, Patrick Rouxel, founder of Sun Bear Outreach, followed the rehabilitation to life in the wild of 3 orphan sun bear cubs. Then in 2014/2015, he helped coordinate the rehabilitation of another 3 cubs. These were carried out in the National Park of Tanjung Puting, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia with the collaboration of the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI).

All the cubs were brought to the forest and released in a soft and gradual way commonly known as the ‘walk-release method’ established by Dr Gabriella Fredriksson, co-chair of the IUCN Sun Bear expert team. In the wild, cubs follow their mother until they are about 2 years old and which point they become independent and go off to establish their own territories. With Gabriella’s method, a person takes over the roll of the mother bear and stays in the forest with the cub until he becomes autonomous.

Bunbun at peace in the forest

Bunbun at peace in the forest

A camp in the forest serves as base for both the carer and the cub. Every day, from dawn to dusk, the foster parent and the cub wonder in the forest. The cub, driven by hunger and a natural curiosity, will learn to forage for food and climb trees on his own. The simple presence of the a foster parent is enough to chase away any wild bear who could want to harm the cub, or a clouded leopard who could potentially prey on a sun bear cub. In the late afternoon, the foster parent and the cub return to camp where the cub is given supplementary food and locked in a den for the night (away from camp) until the next morning, when a new day of exploring and learning begins. And so on, day after day.

Bunbun exploring the forest

Bunbun exploring the forest

The first cub Patrick brought back to the forest was called Bunbun. She was about one year old when the reintroduction began. She had kept her instinctive fear of humans, which was a good thing and she quickly began going away on her own and disappearing for a day or two before showing up at camp again. Unfortunately, after just 3 months, she got in a fight (probably with another bear) and came back to camp with a broken leg. She was taken back to the OFI clinic where she received treatment and was kept in a small cage for 10 weeks, to allow the bone to heal. Then we brought her back to the forest, but she managed to escape from her transport cage upon arrival at the camp and she ran into the forest never to be seen again.

Six months later, Patrick brought two other cubs to the forest, Bernie and Wawang, who had also been taken captive at a young age from the wild, then confiscated by the local authorities and handed over to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). To avoid losing the cubs in the forest like we had lost Bunbun, they were equipped with emitters placed in the abdominal cavity. This implant emits a radio wave that can be picked up by a receiver at a distance of approximately 300 m for about 3 years.

Bernie and Wawang in the forest

Bernie and Wawang in the forest

Unfortunately, after just 6 weeks, Bernie and Wawang ran off one late afternoon, beyond the limit of their tracking device, and spent their first night alone in the forest. The next morning, Wawang’s body was found, lifeless and covered in wounds from what looked like a fight with another bear. But Bernie was alive and she ended spending about 1 year and a half with Patrick in the forest, as she grew older and increasingly autonomous. We hope that she is still out there thriving as a free bear in her natural habitat.

Wawang in the forest

Wawang in the forest

After Bernie left to lead her own life, Patrick began the construction of a one hectare forest enclosure for 3 adult bears who could not go back to the wild, at the Care Centre of the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI). While doing this he participated in the coordination of the release of another 3 cubs: Ori, who sadly was brought back to the OFI Care Centre after 3 months in the forest because his carer abandoned the project, then Koko and Octa who unfortunately disappeared in the forest although they were still not fully autonomous. Despite the tracking devices, Koko and Octa they were never to be found again.

Since, Sun Bear Outreach has not participated in any other reintroductions of cubs to the wild, because we have focused our attention on building large forest enclosures for captive sun bears who cannot go back to the forest. But if the opportunity to release more sun bears to the wild presented itself and if the conditions were favourable, we would certainly try again, because despite the difficulty of the task, we believe that an attempt to a life in the wild is still better than a long life of captivity.

Bernie and Patrick in the forest

Bernie and Patrick in the forest