A singer and reality TV contestant was arrested for keeping a bear in her apartment, which she claims she initially mistook for a dog, according to local reports.
Neighbors alerted authorities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, after filming a sun bear cub as it leaned out of the window of a condo, roaring.
News agency Bernama said that a woman was detained on June 7. Authorities have not yet indicated whether she will be charged, but say the case is under investigation.
Singer Zarith Sofia Yasin said she had intended to take the bear—estimated to be around 6 months old—to the zoo once it had regained strength.
She said that she found the cub two weeks earlier weak and starving on the streets.
“It was night time when I found the bear cub in a weakened state by the side of the road, and I thought it was dog,” she told Kosmo.
Sun bears are one of the smallest bear species in the world and are sometimes known as “honey bears” or “dog bears.” They are protected by law in Malaysia, where they are sometimes raised as pets or their organs sold for traditional medicines.
Some online commentators accused Yasin, who recently starred in the reality TV show “Rockanova,” of trapping the cub in her home with the intention of selling it illegally.
Yasin denied the accusations, telling The Star: “I know the bear cannot be reared, it can’t be kept as a pet.
“I only wanted to save the bear, I had no intention of exploiting it.”
She admitted to leaving the cub in her condo while she went back home for religious celebrations. “But I didn’t let him starve, I left him some food.”
“I was worried about sending Bruno to the zoo [while it was ill] because the animals there look skinny,” she said.
One video shows other residents trying to stop the cub from falling out of the window as they try to shut the window with a mop.
“I didn’t put him in a cage because I didn’t want him to stay there for too long,” Yasin said. “That would have been even more cruel.”
Sun bears can be identified through the white or yellow patch on their chest that gives them their name and by their long powerful claws.
“Found from southern China to eastern India and as far south as Indonesia, sun bears, also called Malayan sun bears, take their name from the bib-shaped golden or white patch on their chest, which legend says represents the rising sun,” says the National Geographic.
“They have a stocky, muscular build, small ears, and a short muzzle, which has earned them the nickname ‘dog bear.’”
Sun bears can reach 4-5 feet in length and weigh up to 180 pounds.
As with other bears in Asia, they are hunted for their gall bladders and other body parts for traditional medicinal uses.
Nursing females are sometimes killed and their cubs sold as pets.
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Author: Simon Veazey