KUALA LUMPUR • A one-month- old sun bear cub that looks like an adorable plush toy was snatched from its mother to be sold illegally online in Malaysia, the media reported yesterday.
National Parks Department (Perhilitan) saved the cub at a hotel in Kuala Lipis, Pahang, last Saturday and a 30-year-old man was arrested for possession of the sun bear without permit.
"There are people who buy wildlife as pets. They like to keep young bears, leopard cats and owls," said Perhilitan director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim on Tuesday.
"Only the 'cute' ones. But they don't know how hard it will be to care for the animals once they've grown."
He warned that wild creatures could be aggressive and would attack without reason.
Mr Abdul Kadir gave the example of keeping a tiger cub as a pet.
"I don't know where they will keep the tiger when it's two years old. It would probably eat its owner," he said in jest.
As for the sun bear cub, he said that Perhilitan had been monitoring the man for about a month before the arrest.
"The sun bear was about to be sold for a mere RM2,000 (S$668). We believe the bear was brought in from a neighbouring country," he told a press conference at the Perhilitan headquarters.
Perhilitan also saved seven leo- pard cats at a house in Ampang last Friday.
There were no special permits for five of the cats. Although there were permits for the other two, they were registered under a different address.
The sun bear will be sent to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai, Perak, and released into the wild once it has matured, while the cats can be released immediately pending veterinary inspection.
Mr Abdul Kadir advised the public to stop buying exotic animals as pets.
"The thing about Malaysians, they feel a sense of pride having wildlife as pets. But we can't do that. We have cats and dogs that we can keep as pets. Don't buy wildlife. Let them be free in the wild," he said.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK