Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

by Jan

If you are on a family holiday in Borneo, don’t forget to visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok (near Sandakan). Kids will love these cute sun bears as they observe them in their natural habitat.

In our guide we share all the information you need for a visit to the Sun Bear Centre.  Discover facts about sun bears, admission costs and the best things to see.

It’s a great trip if you want to see wildlife in Borneo and makes sense to combine it with other wildlife centres in the vicinity, such as Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

How to get to the Sun Bear Centre

Borneo sun bear looking for food at the rehabilitation centre in Sepilok, Borneo

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is about 20km from the town of Sandakan, on the eastern side of Sabah (Borneo).

You could go with an organised tour, get a bus or taxi from Sandakan or stay at one of the local Sepilok lodges, such as Sepilok Jungle Resort, Nature Lodge Sepilok  or the Sepilok Forest Edge Resort.  These lodges are all easy walking distance from the sun bear centre.

We stayed at the Sepilok Forest Edge Resort, which was a pleasant 10-minute walk to the Sepilok Sun Bear Centre and Orangutan Centre.

For more information on other things to do in Sandakan, read our post:-

Best things to do in Sandakan

Facts about sun bears

Borneo Sun bear at the rehabilitation centre in Sepilok, Sabah

The sun bear is the smallest bear in the world and is the second rarest species. They live in the tropical lowland areas of South East Asia. Sun bears spend a lot of time in trees, where they build nests to sleep in.  The bears also like to dig through soil looking for invertebrates.

Sun bears have a unique, pale yellow horseshoe shape on their chests.  If they are eating you may also see the extremely long tongue which helps them extract honey from bee hives.

The sun bear plays an important role in maintaining the health of the forest.  They keep numbers of termites down and also assist in the dispersion of seeds.  Sun bears also help other animals build their nests, by creating holes when they open tree trunks looking for honey.

Unfortunately, loss of habitat, illegal hunting and the pet trade have led to a massive decline in sun bear numbers and the Malayan sun bear is now in danger of extinction.

The rehabilitation work at the Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sepilok

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre has been set up to rehabilitate rescued sun bears and help release them back to the wild.  The centre also aims to provide education and awareness about these lovely sun bears.

There are currently 43 rescued sun bears living at the centre.  There are two bear houses, with a number of individual dens for the sun bears.  These are surrounded by natural forest enclosures so that sun bears can play, dig, forage and climb outside. 

The aerial walkways give visitors access to walk around and observe the sun bears from the two different observation platforms.  Information boards at the platforms educate visitors about sun bears and threats they are facing.

We had a spectacular view of a beautiful sun bear sitting on a tree stump in front of us.  There were also several sun bears digging and foraging in the earth.  

The sun bear centre is a great place to observe these delightful animals close up and get an understanding of the sun bear lifestyle. You may also get to observe other jungle animals that are sharing this jungle environment.

A visit to the Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sepilok, Sabah

Opening hours at the Bornean Sun Bear Centre

The Sun Bear Centre is open every day from 9:00 until 3:30pm.  It doesn’t shut for lunch.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to combine your trip with a visit to Sepilok Orangutan Centre (directly opposite).  The orangutan centre closes daily for 2 hours from 12:00 until 2:00 pm.

The Sun Bear Conservation Centre is fairly small, so you will need about an hour for you visit.

Entrance fees at the Bornean Sun Bear Centre

Admission to the Sun Bear Centre is currently:

  • RM 31,80 (approx £6) for non-Malay adults
  • RM2,10 (12-17 year olds)
  • free for children under 12

The  entrance fees contribute towards essential sun bear conservation work.

The centre charges a camera fee of RM1,000 for cameras with lenses of 500mm and above.

The official currency in Borneo is the Malaysian Ringgitt (RM).

Adopt a sun bear

If you wish to further support the conservation work, you can adopt one of these adorable sun bears.  Unfortunately, you don’t get to take one home, but you can contribute towards its welfare.

There are two options, exclusive adoption or shared adoption.  Both will give you a photo of your sun bear and regular updates on how he is doing.  We chose to adopt an orangutan instead!

What else is there to do in Sepilok?

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Sepilok Orangutan climbing amongst rainforest trees in Borneo

The Sun Bear Conservation Centre is directly opposite  Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, so it’s a great idea to combine your two visits.  This will give you the chance to see the adorable orphaned orangutans too.

For more information on the Sepilok Orangutan Centre, read our post:-

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneo

The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC)

If you take a 15 minute walk, you will come to The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC), which is an environmental education centre, set in 4,300 hectares of rainforest.

The Labak Bay Proboscis Monkey Centre

About half an hour’s drive away is  Labak Bay Proboscis Monkey Centre, where you will discover 300 floppy-nosed proboscis monkeys.

You could organise a tour from your Sepilok lodge or get a taxi, bus or a shuttle from Sandakan.

We hoped you enjoyed this post on the Sun Bear Conservation Centre.  If you have any questions, please comment below.

For more information on Borneo, read our other posts in our

Borneo Travel Guide


CHIMPTRIPS - Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

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Avatar for Jan
Laureen Dixon 13th November 2019 - 9:30 am

Brilliant photography!


Avatar for Jan
Jan 13th November 2019 - 8:33 pm

Hi Laureen, Glad you are enjoying our blog, Jan


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