A Malaysian singer who had been keeping a sun bear in her condominium claims she thought she was rescuing a dog, The Star has reported.
According to a translation by The Star, Zarith Sofia Yasin told Malay daily Kosmo!: “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!”
On June 7, The Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) reportedly arrested a 27-year-old female singer suspected of keeping an endangered wild animal in her home, Bernama reported.
Perhilitan officers conducted a raid at the singer’s condominium unit in Desa Pandan following a public tip-off, Bernama added.
Residents had first spotted a sun bear poking its head out of the unit it was being held captive in, according to a Facebook post by one of the residents.
In the video shared by Facebook user Ida Shareena, the sun bear is heard roaring loudly.
In another picture she shared, it was sitting on a window ledge.
Zarith, a former contestant on reality show “Rockanova”, came forward by revealing her identity to mStar Online on June 9.
She reportedly told mStar that she had found the bear in a weakened state near Bukit Ampang about two weeks ago, and wanted to send it to the zoo once it recovered.
“I only wanted to save the bear, I had no intention of exploiting him,” Zarith said.
Zarith said she named the bear Bruno, and was quoted by The Star as saying: “It was true that I went home for Hari Raya, but I didn’t let him starve, I left him some food. If Bruno could talk, it would surely say the food I gave was delicious. He ate chocolate.”
She also told The Star that she let Bruno out of its cage to roam about because she did not want it to sit in the cage for too long, and added that “that would have been even more cruel”.
“Perhaps some neighbours passed by and saw the bear (roaming) and they made noise. So the bear may have panicked and roared,” Zarith said.
The singer also dismissed claims from netizens that she was selling protected wildlife. The Star quoted her as saying: “I run a business in the day and at night I sing … when would I have the time to sell animals?”
She also said that she would accept any legal consequences for her actions if she was found guilty, The Star reported.
The bear cub, estimated to be between five to seven months old, was in good health and has been sent to a wildlife rescue centre, according to The Star.
Citing authorities, The Star reported that it has not been decided if the bear should return to the wild due to its young age.