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In Asia, adult sun bears are poached for body parts which are thought to have medicinal properties. Many orphaned cubs, with their small size and endearing features, are kept illegally as pets. Malaysian ecologist Dr Wong Siew Te, or 'papa bear', has dedicated his life to saving the world's smallest bear from extinction. In this heartwarming story, Wong's love of animals leads him to pursue an unconventional, sometimes dangerous career. It takes him from Malaysia to Taiwan, where he studies animal husbandry; to Montana, where he learns to trap grizzly bears; and on to Borneo to research bears in the dense rainforest. Wong struggles to raise funds to create a unique rescue centre for sun bears, and in 2017 he is acknowledged as a CNN Hero – proving one person can make a difference. Australian author Sarah Pye takes readers on a journey of discovery, introducing individual sun bears she has come to know: Natalie, who learns to survive without her mother; Bongkud, who is struck by lightning; Gutuk, who is too scared to go outside; and Debbie, who grabs her chance at freedom. Saving Sun Bears is Wong's story – and theirs.
"When I first met Wong during filming of Beartrek, I was so moved by his love for sun bears and their future [...] it went way beyond science. Now I'm proud to call him a friend and so happy that Sarah has captured his life in the words of this beautiful book. Be prepared to laugh and cry as you read his story, and be prepared to fall for Wong as everyone who crosses his path does."
– Chris Morgan, documentary filmmaker, Uproar
"I was recently immensely privileged to meet Dr Wong and film the release of three sun bears back into the wild. Wong is an incredibly committed and charismatic man, and I highly recommend this inspirational story about his life and important work."
– Dame Judi Dench, actor and activist