Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sun bears found in garment factory

Sun bears found in garment factory

Sun bears found in garment factory

Two abandoned, overweight and rare Malayan sun bears were seized from — of all places — the closed-down Yung Wah garment factories in Kandal province last Thursday.

As more than 1,000 workers protested against the factories’ closure outside, a team from Wildlife Alliance entered the Yung Wah II factory, later emerging with two sun bears — a male and a female — that had been languishing in purpose-built cages behind the building.

Dean Lague, technical adviser for Wildlife Alliance’s rapid rescue team, said his team had been alerted to the presence of the sun bears after factory staff had gone to authorities.

“Having been fed only milk and rice [for a long time], they were chronically overweight, especially the adult male,” Lague said.

According to Wildlife Alliance’s website, the bears were taken to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre.

About 7,000 workers were left stranded when the factory, in Takhmao town, closed without warning in December.

Workers have claimed the Singapore-based owners fled, owing them millions of dollars.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has said the factory went into liquidation and appointed a lawyer to help repay the workers, a process that continued yesterday.

Soy Sokchea, a worker at Yungwah before its closure, said he believed sun bears — which are considered vulnerable and are illegal to own — had been kept at the factory 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.”

Chuon Vuth, manager of the charity Free the Bears, said both sun bears were at least three years old.

The male weighed 144 kilograms, more than twice the average weight for sun bears, and faced death if its condition did not improve, he said.

“Its body contains a lot of fat from too much feeding without a proper technique,” Vuth said.

“They would not be able to find food for themselves if they were released.”

Hieng Chanthy, the military police commander in Takhmao town, said associates of Yung Wah’s owners claimed the sun bears were not part of a smuggling racket.
“The bears were donated as a gift,” he said.

GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said he was not aware of the raid.

“Whatever [the owners] choose to do, it’s their decision, but it’s nothing we’re involved in.”

Phone numbers for Yung Wah in Singapore and Cambodia appeared to be disconnected yesterday.

 

 

To contact the reporters on this story: Phak Seangly at [email protected]

Shane Worrell at [email protected]

With assistance from Mom Kunthear

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Monks given ‘Samdech’ title for contributions

    Three senior monks on Thursday were given the highest-ranking title “samdech”, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying that the promotions were due to their contributions to Buddhism. The three distinguished monks were promoted on Thursday morning at Botum Vatey pagoda in Phnom Penh, at a