Native to Southeast Asia, sun bears are listed as a "vulnerable" species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

By Ashley Boucher
June 13, 2019 11:00 PM
Zarith Sofia Yasin
Credit: Zarith Sofia Yasin/Instagram

A Malaysian singer was arrested by local Department of Wildlife and National Parks officials after taking a sun bear, which she claims she thought was a dog, home with her.

Zarith Sofia Yasin, a former contestant on the competition show Rockanova, told The Star Online that she came upon the bear cub “in a weakened state” and took it home to her apartment, where she said she wanted to help it regain its strength before taking it to a local zoo.

“I only wanted to save the bear, I had no intention of exploiting it,” Yasin, 27, told the outlet’s Malay language site. “I was worried about sending Bruno to the zoo (while it was ill) because the animals there look skinny.”

“If Bruno could talk, it would surely say the food I gave him was delicious – it ate chocolates!” she added.

She also told the outlet that she did not cage the bear, but let it roam around in her apartment, saying to cage it “would have been even more cruel.”

In a since-deleted video on Facebook, the bear can be heard crying from within the apartment complex as it peers out a window, seemingly trying to escape, according to Mashable.

Sun Bear
Sun Bear [File Picture]
| Credit: Afrianto Silalahi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Yasin was arrested by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks last Friday night, according to the New Straits Times.

“The suspect was unable to produce any documentation to prove she has a right to hold the Sun bear cub captive,” an official told the outlet, adding that she “was detained to assist in our investigation of the case.”

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The sun bear is listed as a “vulnerable” species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is recognized as the smallest member in the bear family, according to National Geographic.

Native to Southeast Asia, sun bears have a stocky build, small ears and a short muzzle, contributing to their nickname, the “dog bear.”