It's been four weeks now since Free the Bears welcomed their latest cub, a 2 month old female Sun bear weighing just 3.7kg.
Until now, the cub has remained nameless, going by her rescue identification #187. She is the 187th rescue by Free the Bears since they started collaborating with the Cambodian Forestry Administration in 1997.
Perth-based Free the Bears Founder, Mary Hutton, says that the orphaned cub has remained nameless since her arrival for good reason.
"Traditionally, cubs as tiny as this little female are not named until they are out of the woods. Cubs at this age are extrememly fragile and require around-the-clock care. Our nursery team does everything from bottle-feeding to sleeping on a mattress beside the little ones to replicate the care they would have from their mother in the wild. However, I am pleased to report that today she's just clocked over 7kg and thriving under TLC given by Mr Heng and our nursery team. Now it's time to give her a name."
While she has been gaining strength, Free the Bears have turned to Australian media to find her the perfect name. Viewers from Channel Nine's Weekend TODAY Show submitted entries following a segment with Mary Hutton about the arrival of the cub. The winning entry submitted by TODAY Show viewer Sally Hartley was Soriya - meaning 'sun' in Cambodian. And due to the fact that there were so many suggestions to choose from, she's been given a surname too - Sundance.
Mary says it has been great to not only highlight the plight of these cubs through Australian media, but also to have help from the Australian public to choose a name.
"We have over 130 bears currently in care at our Cambodian centre alone, and almost 900 bears rescued throughout Asia since first starting our campaign. Coming up with a unique name can sometimes be a creative challenge for us with so many bears over our 20 years of operation. We would like to thank all of the wonderful people who put forward name suggestions for Soriya Sundance. It is a very fitting name for this bright little girl."
Soriya Sundance will continue to receive around-the-clock care for several more months in the Free the Bears Cub Nursery. Her progress can be followed on the Free the Bears Facebook page. www.facebook.com/freethebearsfund.
SORIYA'S RESCUE STORY
Soriya Sundance was an unexpected delivery at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia. Driving 400km from his village a Deputy Governor of Mondulkiri Province delivered the little bundle after purchasing the cub from poachers. While he had good intentions to rescue the cub, buying illegal wildlife is highly discouraged. Free the Bears strongly encourage anybody who is offered wildlife or sees animals for sale to contact local Police or the Forestry Administration.
Support is needed to continue to provide for the tiniest victims of the illegal wildlife trade by donating or buying a Cub Care Kit from Free the Bears Virtual Gift Range. Click here to make your purchase and help to save a little life.
Free the Bears work continues, with another bear rescued in Laos just this week, exactly one month after Soriya's arrival.