Facebook, and the rest of social media was in a frenzy over strange footage containing an “alien animal.” But what you may not know, is that this isn’t an incredibly rare find, but it is incredibly sad.
The story about how this footage came to be will break your heart. It broke mine, and brought me to tears within seconds. So, brace yourself.
The Borneo Post reported that plantation workers encountered the clawed, hairless animal while working in palm fields. Uneducated on what it might have been, and easily led by their fear, they didn’t know what the animal might be, and quickly resorted to violence.
“None of us has ever seen such thing. One of us then hit the animal until it appeared to have passed out,” said one of the workers. “It could be a rare species of bear. When it regained consciousness, we forced it to go back into the jungle.”
This footage shows the “strange creature” barely making it over a pile of dry palm fronds, trying to flee from the people who attacked him.
Anthony Sebastian, head of the Malaysian Nature Society Kuching, says the animal is not truly common to find, and is a threatened species.
“It is clearly a sun bear,” Sebastian told the Malaysian Star. “What confuses people is the lack of fur. It is not some strange alien that has fallen from the sky.”
Wildlife officials from Sarawak Forestry Corporation confirmed to the Borneo Post that the animal is conclusively a sun bear. They also added that the bear might have been driven to the plantation due to flooding nearby.
So why was this bear hairless and so thin-looking? Members of the conservation group Naturetalksback believes it had likely “lost its fur either from disease or because it was abused/shaved.”
“A local endangered bear gets the living daylights beaten out of it, is filmed, and paraded on the interwebs as a ‘freak of nature’ or a ‘monster,’” the group writes on Facebook. “This is not right.”
This is sad. No, it’s beyond sad. This isn’t just one instance of abuse, or neglect. Humanity’s destructive tendencies are making it impossible for creatures like these, and thousands of others, to survive.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature published statistics that report the sun bear population has been reduced by as much as 30% in the last 30 years. Their homes are being destroyed and their habitats are being sourced out to palm oil companies, who don’t really seem to care if the sun bear, or orangutan are wiped out.
As far as the health of the sun bear you have seen circulating online, we’re sad to say he’s passed.
Though these pictures have only recently been shared, the events that led to them transpired last year.
The Sarawak Forestry Corporation announced the bear’s demise on May 18th, 2015.
“The animal had not been eating well and vomiting. Worrying for its health, emergency medical intervention was performed under sedation. It was also fed with fluids through IV and food through a stomach tube,” SFC said in a press statement.
“Unfortunately, it succumbed to late-stage cancer with metastatis in the lymph nodes and adjacent organs as well as obstruction in the stomach due to primary tumour with origin in the stomach or pancreas.”
SFC added, “A detailed examination of the bear also revealed that it was in fact a very old bear and not just a full adult as previously thought.
“Cancer aside, the bear had probably reached the end of its natural life span.”
The sun bear was captured at an oil palm plantation in Bintangor on April 2 and was sent to the Matang Wildlife Centre for rehabilitation.”
By Raven Fon