Want to see gorgeous bears, the smallest in the world, and help their conservation?
Visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre!
Sun bears aren’t just the smallest in the world but, unfortunately, they are also the second-most endangered. Named thanks to the golden fur around their necks, they each have a unique pattern that varies in colour from creams to orange.
And while they are small for a bear, they can grow up to 1.5 metres and 60 kilograms.
They are found in southeast Asia, but sadly the species have become threatened thanks to illegal hunting, the pet trade and deforestation. They are also killed for meat and Chinese medicine. In Sabah, deforestation is the main enemy with a male sun bear needing at least 39 square kilometres of forest to find food.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) takes in rescued sun bears that were held captive. It helps these bears learn how to climb, build nests, forage for food and socialise so that they can be returned to the wild.
However, this place isn’t just for the bears. You can also visit and learn more about sun bear conservation and spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Want to learn more? Keep reading as in this article, I have a full Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre review so you’ll know everything about visiting here. Reading this is the best way to work out if you should visit here on your Borneo adventure.
I also share a full video walk-through of visiting this centre so you’ll know exactly what to expect if you visit here.
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Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
This Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre was opened in 2014 to the public. At the time of publishing, there were 42 sun bears in residence, all of which were ex-captive rescues.
You’ll find a large forest enclosure here which is the perfect training ground for rehabilitating these sun bears back into the wild. It contains their natural environment and is safe for them while they learn.
There are elevated walkways and viewing platforms above the sun bears where you can see sun bears climbing up and down trees, digging termites for food or lazing around. There are also telescopes that you can use for a closer look. These walkways run along two lengths of the main enclosure.
When I was there, I was able to watch four different sun bears. One disappeared into the folage pretty quickly, but the other three, I could watch as long as I wanted. One was up a tree which was particularly cool to watch. They seemed too big to be up so high!
A guide also helped me view stingless bees super up close on a tree with one of the telescopes. He also helped me take a photo of it.
Sun bears are naturally great climbers with their long claws. They look for beehives up in the trees. As they rip holes in the tree to get to honey, they also create a safe place for birds to nest. Their love of termites for dinner also helps keep the termite population under control. All up, sun bears are a great asset to the natural environment.
It’s also worth a stop at the gift shop where an educational video on the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and its work is played.
There is the option of a paid volunteer program here for either two or four weeks to help with the sun bear conservation. You can find out more information here. It’s also possible to adopt a sun bear. You can find their crazy cute profiles here.
This place really is brilliant and it’s awesome to get the see the sun bears, learn about them and help with their conservation with just the one visit.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok is relatively small and right next door to the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, so it makes sense to visit both together. There is full access for people with disabilities.
You can watch and enjoy for as long or as short as you want. I spent about an hour here, but you could also spend far less time. It’s not that big a place.
Where Is Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre?
Address: PPM 219, Elopura, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center is located in Sepilok next to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. It’s about a 35 minute drive from Sandakan or about 25 minutes from Sandakan Airport.
The easiest way to get here is using Grab to get a taxi. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s also possible to catch a local bus from Sandakan for RM6. It takes about 45 minutes.
Take the bus “Batu 14 Sepilok” from the bus terminal in front of the Navy Base. It’ll drop you by the centre.
The downside is that this bus doesn’t run often – about every two and a half hours.
You can also find tours which include visiting this place here. This is a great way to visit the top attractions in this area.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Video Walk-Through
A picture speaks a thousand words and a video speaks far more!
For the best overview of visiting here, watch our full video walk-through of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre below.
We also have many other videos of Sabah experiences on our YouTube channel so consider subscribing here.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Entrance Fee
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre entry fee depends on your age and nationality.
Under 2’s get free entry. 2-17 year olds get a child rate.
Malaysians pay RM10 for an adult and RM5 for a child. Foreigners pay RM50 for an adult and RM25 for a child.
If you’re a serious photographer, note that there is a camera fee of a whopping RM1,000 if you have a camera with lenses 500mm and above.
It can feel too expensive for a small place, but since all proceeds fund sun bear conservation programs, it’s well worth paying for an entry ticket here.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Opening Hours
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Sandakan is open from 9am to 3:30pm daily.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is a fantastic place to visit to see these amazing bears in their natural habitat. You can learn and watch them in a way that doesn’t bother them, although this does mean that you don’t get super close.
I enjoyed walking on the elevated walkways here and viewing the sun bears. My biggest piece of advice is to take your time, soak it in and enjoy.
The best part is that all money raised by this centre by your ticket purchase are used for sun bear conservation so you can feel really good about visiting here.
Looking for other things to do in Sandakan? Find our full guide here. Just interesting in Sepilok? Find our guide to Sepilok attractions here. You can also find our full guide to where to stay in Sandakan here and our full travel guide to the Sandakan area here. You can also read our guide to visiting proboscis monkeys here.
Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!