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Sun Bear Enrichment & Caretaker Volunteer

Hiring Organization:
Orangutan Foundation International

Date Posted:

Position Description:
Orangutan Foundation International is seeking a new sun bear volunteer to be the main care-giver of three sun bears (two juvenile and one adult) currently being housed at the OCCQ.

The facility is the home of over 300 orphaned orangutans as well as several other species including long-tailed and pigtailed macaques, binturongs, a cassowary, and the three Malayan sun bears. OFI's focus is the rehabilitation of ex-captive orangutans, but the OCCQ has an open door policy to all captive animals no animal in need is ever turned away. The care of the sun bears and other animals is assisted greatly by the sun bear volunteer as well as other volunteers at the center.

Job description:

The major responsibilities of the sun bear volunteer will be to work with other volunteers in the care of two juvenile and one adult sun bears currently housed at the OCCQ. This includes daily husbandry and routine chores such as cleaning, procuring and supplying browse for feeding, and providing and creating enrichment. The volunteer will lead an introduction of the three bears through behavioural observations as well as help lead a large (approx. 1 ha) forest enclosure construction project planned for the next year.

The three bears are currently house separately from each other, but are being readied to be introduced together in preparation for life in a new larger forest enclosure. This job will require the volunteer to become comfortable quickly with all three bears through daily contact and observations. The introduction will be assisted and supervised by OFI interns and staff, however the sun bear volunteer will be responsible for daily observations to ensure that the introduction goes as smoothly as possible. After the initial introduction of the bears, the volunteer will have the opportunity to lead the new forest enclosure project. This means being involved with planning and helping to manage the construction. OFI will offer as much support as possible throughout the entire process, however the ideal candidate will be highly organized, independent, and is willing to take initiative. The sun bear volunteer will be the point person for all others involved with the construction project. This will involve keeping records, budgets, and occasionally writing articles for the OFI website and other media as requested or as needed for fundraising.

About sun bear conservation:

The Malayan sun bear is understudied little conservation action has been targeted at it. The Malayan sun bear has been listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 1979, which prohibits international trade, and the killing of the sun bear is prohibited under national wildlife protection laws, however, little enforcement of these laws occurs. The Malayan sun bear is part of an international captive breeding programme and has a Species Survival Program under the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. More research is needed as only recently have field studies started to investigate the basic biology, ecology, and behaviour of wild sun bears. Conservation of sun bears needs to focus on protection of their forest habitat, proper management of these areas, and strict enforcement of their legal status to minimize human-bear conflict and halt the black market trade in sun bear body parts. (See for more information.)

Volunteering with Orangutan Foundation International (OFI)

Orangutan Foundation International protects 6,000 wild orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park, in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Facilities include 16 guard posts throughout the park and numerous staffed feeding stations in addition to the Orangutan Care Center, which rehabilitates 330 young orangutans and prepares them for return to the wild. The majority of individuals are under 10 years old. The Centre consists of a central clinic and units housing the older individuals, while the outlying juvenile units and the medical quarantine facility are set in the surrounding 80 hectare forest. Most of the orangutans are very well-habituated to humans. They arrive in the OCCQ by confiscation from homes, black markets, entertainment industry, and abusive zoos.

Volunteering for OFI can have a big impact on your life and on the lives of the thousands of orangutans we fight to protect. Each year, OFI is grateful to receive many kind inquiries from volunteers willing to spend weeks, months, even years in Kalimantan, helping in the Orangutan Care Centre or in Tanjung Puting National Park. For our successful long-term volunteers, OFI is pleased to be able to offer letters of reference that will serve as testimony of their dedication to our organization and the quality of the contribution they have made to our cause. Volunteers are expected to submit a final report on what they have learned, experienced, and accomplished during their tenure with OFI.

Life at the OCC&Q:

The OCCQ is situated in the village of Pasir Panjang, a 15 minute drive from the small city of Pangkalan Bun. This city has an airport and is situated in the south of the province of Kalimantan Tengah, Borneo, Indonesia. Volunteers work on a daily basis in the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine in Pasir Panjang. Most of the locals speak rudimentary or no English. Languages are Indonesian and local Dayak dialect. The staff working hours are 8:00 to 16:00, with a lunch break at around noon. If desired, the volunteer may take one day off a week.

Living arrangements are typically with a local family homestay. Living conditions are basic, with limited running water, no landlines or Internet (although internet is available a 10 minute ride away in the town). The quality of care in the homes varies, from simple room accommodation to cooking and laundry. OFI makes an effort to arrange homestays for all its interns and volunteers, but there is an element of unpredictability in any such arrangements. In case of emergency, hotel/motel accommodations are present in Pangkalan Bun and even closer to Pasir Panjang

How to Apply: Admission to the volunteer program is competitive. To apply, please follow these steps:

1. All applicants must be members in good standing of OFI. To join OFI, please visit: The fee is $35 for a student or senior membership.
2. Download and fill out the long-term volunteer application form here:
3. Submit the following documents to

Proof of OFI membership
Cover letter

Please follow this link to OFI's Long-Term Volunteer Program Brochure:

Job-Specific Requirements:

Passion, empathy, and interest in the sun bears and their daily quality of life.

Experience working closely with non-domestic captive animals (or evidence to suggest the ability to work closely with wild and/or potentially dangerous animals).

Readiness to spend many hours a day with the bears (the majority of your time will be with the bears or doing work to help them).

Background/interest in biology, zoology, veterinary or ecology or related field.

Interest/experience in behavioural observation data collection.

Must be mature, organized, and have leadership qualities.

Comfortable living in challenging and rural environment with basic amenities and limited resources.

Experience working in tropical environments.

Willing to undertake labour-intensive physical work on a daily basis; a decent level of fitness is necessary for the lifting, carrying, tool use involved.

Confidence and initiative to supervise the project.

Cultural sensitivity, ability to build and maintain good relationships with local staff (preferably, prior experience working in a foreign environment).

A basic level of Bahasa Indonesia or an interest in learning the Indonesian language (as this will significantly increase your success rate as well as enjoyment of the position)

General Skills and Characteristics:

Experience traveling, working or volunteering in developing, tropical nations.

High degree of flexibility, open-mindedness, creativity and optimism.

Strong interest in orangutans and other endangered wildlife.

Dedication to working in the field in primitive conditions.

Ability and commitment to fundraise for the trip.

The following documents are required from all volunteers prior to departure:

Proof of vaccinations

Negative tests results from the following diseases:




Proof of travel & medical insurance

Signed work contract

Signed confidentiality agreement

Program Costs and Requirements:

Volunteers will be expected to cover International flights to Jakarta Indonesia as well as domestic flights to Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan Tengah. 2,500,000 IDR per month in rent in Pasir Panjang: includes three basic meals a day, electricity, and accommodation. Additional funds should be budgeted for miscellaneous personal expenses. (There are small local shops nearby.) Volunteers will also be responsible for the cost of initial visa which OFI will help you acquire, as well as renewals 3 times during the 6 months. (approx. 1 000 000 IDR average each trip). Volunteers are responsible for basic field equipment.

Term of Appointment:
6 months minimum

Application Deadline:

Contact Information:
Sarah Cornish
824 South Wellesley Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Telephone Number:


E-mail Address:

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