KUCHING (The Star/Asia News Network) - An emaciated sun bear which came to the attention of the public when a video clip of its sighting went viral earlier this year has been found and handed over to wildlife authorities in Sarawak.
The bear, believed to be sick, had previously eluded attempts at rescue but was finally captured by plantation workers under the guidance of Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) in Meradong district on Thursday.
It was surrendered to SFC's Swift Wildlife Action Team (SWAT) in Sibu and is expected to arrive at Matang Wildlife Centre here later on Thursday.
"The sun bear will be checked by a vet on arrival and arrangements have been made to nurse it back to health at the centre," SFC said.
The animal had been spotted in January by Indonesian plantation workers, who were shocked by its strange and hairless appearance.
None of the workers could identify the strange-looking animal, which crawled around on all fours, sported brownish-grey skin, sharp claws and short ears.
"We were shocked. None of us has ever seen such thing. One of us then hit the animal until it appeared to have passed out," The Borneo Post Online quoted a worker as saying at that time. The worker claimed that the animal had charged at them.
A video of the beating filmed by the workers went viral after it was posted on The Borneo Post's YouTube channel.
Environmentalists condemned the beating. They said the animal was probably a sun bear and it likely was suffering from skin disease.
Sun bears are the smallest of the world's eight bear species and are found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra and Borneo.
They classified as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List and are at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.
In Sarawak, the sun bear is protected under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998.