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Saving Sun Bears

Sarah Pye first visited Borneo in 2012, ostensibly to see orangutans in the wild. When she met Dr Wong Siew Te, Founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, and saw the world’s ‘forgotten bear’ hanging 40m in the air, she asked what she could do to help sun bears. Dr Wong replied, ‘do what you do best’. Those five powerful words sparked a seven-year journey, a Doctor of Creative Arts degree, an enduring friendship, and a full-length biography book Saving Sun Bears, which was launched on June 5th.

In this heart-warming 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. 

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. 

The book has been endorsed by none other than Dame Judi Dench, who says, “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.” 

The Saving Sun Bears book launch was broadcast live as part of the Sunshine Coast’s World Environment Day program including interviews with the author, the hero, and the publisher. Sarah also presented at the Wildlife Tourism webinar on June 22nd 2020.

Saving Sun Bears is available for purchase on Amazon in hard copy and e-book. The Audio book will be available shortly. To contact Sarah, or find out more about sun bears, visit

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