The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre just outside Sandakan, Malaysia is in Sepilok, and is located right next to the orang utan rehabilitation centre, so it makes sense to visit the 2 sanctuaries on the same day.
The Sun Bear Conservation Centre isn’t cheap (for non-Malays) but I’d say it’s absolutely worth a visit.
The centre isn’t huge, but has an excellent raised boardwalk through the trees that allows you to look down on the bears, and even see them in the trees, as we did on our visit there last week. The staff were excellent, stationed on the boardwalk at strategic viewing points, happy to explain and answer all our questions, all in truly excellent English.
Our first sun bear sighting was hijacked by an orang utan from next door, who swung in from the trees and proceeded to upstage the bears.
While on the walkway, trying to spot bears below us, we watched in fascination as a young orang utan stole a bottle of insect repellant from a visitor’s back pocket and then proceeded to open the bottle, taste it, pour it all out (narrowly avoiding the crowd below) and eventually toss the bottle into the bushes.
Yes, it was an interesting photo op (though one does hope the poor orang utan wasn’t sick as a result of his thieving) but as one of the staff explained – orang utans will do exactly the same thing to your camera if they get hold of it. Try and eat it and then throw it away in disgust.
You have been warned.
Back to the bears.
They are the smallest bears in the world. They love coconuts. And they are being seemingly well cared for and protected in this centre.
So, to answer my own question in the title of this post…yes, definitely worth visiting.
Website: Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and this will give you the exact address & the opening times. For what it’s worth, we went there in the early afternoon, before going on for the 3.30 feeding of the orang utans next door, and the timing was perfect. Not too many people.
Budget about an hour.
We paid our own way and didn’t tell the people at the centre that I blog.