Two rare Malayan sun bears have been rescued in Cambodia after they were found in an abandoned garment factory in the southern Kandal province.
The male and female bears were seized by the Wildlife Alliance from the Yun Wa factory on February 14 and brought to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center.
Dean Lague, technical adviser for Wildlife Alliance’s rapid rescue team, said they had been told of the bears’ by former employees, UPI.com reports.
In a statement on their website, Wildlife Alliance added:
“The bears were left with no food and no-one to care for them after the factor owner fled the country because he was no longer able to pay his workers. “
The organization said the sun bears were found in purpose-built cages at the factory, which closed without notice in December last year, leaving around 7,000 people unemployed.
They also revealed the rescue was initially hampered by around 1,000 workers who blockaded the factory for three hours while demanding their salaries.
The bears are now receiving veterinary care at the Phnom Tamao center.
Soy Sokchea, a former worker at Yung Wa, said he believed the sun bears had been kept at the factory for about 10 years.
“The employer built cages for the bears,” he said. “Not all workers were allowed to go and see them — you had to be friends with the caretakers who let people in when the bosses were away.”
Malayan sun bears are typically found in Southeast Asia, and they are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The main risk to the species is the wildlife trafficking that takes place in Asia, which is a problem exacerbated by China’s massive consumption of exotic meats and animal parts for traditional medicine, Agence France-Presse notes.
Wildlife Alliance say they hope the sun bears can become candidates for rehabilitation and re-wilding into their protected rainforest project area in the Southern Cardamoms.