• Gutuk


Tanja Andersen: My story

I came to Bornean sun bear conservation centre (bsbcc) in October, 2013 after quitting pills for anxiety and realising I needed a different life than the one where my ex-boyfriend beat me for 6 months. I realised how much I had lost when I ran away from him in the summer of 2010.

I always knew I wanted to work with animals, but how, I didn’t know. I had completed an animal keeper education in August 2010, but I felt that it was against my values. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I was in a zoo or animal park and I felt that I wanted something greater than who I am as a person.

In 2013 I woke up one day and I couldn’t look myself in the eyes and I chose to follow my dream of becoming a volunteer and visit the jungle. Before leaving, I had to attend a language school to learn English and become more self secure, as I hadn’t spoken English since school. So that is what I did, because I was ready for a big change in my life.

As I arrived at the place, I was shown around and the first bear I saw was a blind, crippled male bear with skin issues called Gutuk. Gutuk had been subjected to great suffering from a person who had taken his rights from him. Here my heart beat like never before I had found home.

Every time I walked past Gutuk, I saw myself sitting in its place and was blinded to my own inner pain I hid from the outside. I could feel his pain, because I was caught in a prison of pain in 27 and up to the 30 years of oppression, abuse, of having to fit in, mental health, physical pain and never could do well in the eyes of others. I have felt silent and let people in my life make me upset.

Gutuk was the turning point of my life. What I did not know was how hard that trip would be for me, working with my dream. I have not given up on the feeling I felt at that time. Today, 13.03.2018 I believe I have been put on this earth to be the champion of wild animals and there has been a reason for having the wretched past, because it prepared me to be a fighter and now I can hold a lot of adversity. I’m ready to go all the way and I know I’ll make huge changes in the world as we know it today.

Take care out there, for here I come and I will do all that is needed to give the rights back to the wild animals, because they are the ones I work for.

I thank Gutuk, who is unfortunately dead today for opening the door to my hidden life’s purpose.

I hope this blog post makes you stop just this second while reading this post, getting an awareness of your heart, how good is your connection to it and do you feel like you are living according to your heart’s values?


Gutuk, is an 18-year-old adult male sun bear. Gutuk originally came from the Penampang district near Kota Kinabalu and came to Sepilok in 2001. He lived at a local crocodile farm and the Lok Kawi Willdife Zoo near Kota Kinabalu. He is the ‘most travelled’ bear at the centre. Gutuk had lost his fur due to his advanced age. Now, thanks to a proper diet, he has a shiny black coat of fur. Gutuk’s eyesight is very poor (it is believed that he was blinded by hot sparks from workmen’s tools) which makes him somewhat slow-moving. Despite his age, Gutuk is always looking for opportunities to mate with females and is agile when it comes to hunting for treats in the exercise enclosures. Natural items like termite mounds, dead wood, branches and dry leaves are given to Gutuk to encourage natural behaviours such as searching for food, foraging and climbing. He enjoys it best when the items are switched up. Despite having access to an outside enclosure, Gutuk has never stepped foot out of his indoor cage. Staffers at the centre encourage him to take his first steps outside, but nothing has succeeded thus far. He is not even tempted by his favourite treats.

Made by Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)