A Malaysian singer was arrested on June 7 on account of lodging a Sun bear at her condominium in Kuala Lumpur. Following her arrest, she claimed that the bear which was rescued by her a few weeks back had been mistaken for a dog.
Led by a public tip-off the cub was rescued from the Sentrio Suites Condominium in Desa Pandan by Perhilitan staff after several residents heard the animal’s cries and spotted it poking its head out of the unit window and contacted the department.
Zarith Sofia, a former contestant on the Rockanova reality show, claimed she had no intention of keeping the six-month-old cub, which she purportedly found in a weak state in Bukit Ampang, Jalan Hulu Langat, in May.
"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!" exclaimed the 27-year-old.
Claiming to have honest intentions, she stated that she was only meaning to nurse the cub back to health and then hand it over to the zoo, however, the delay was in view of her apprehensions regarding the amenities that would be provided to the ailing cub.
"I know the bear cannot be reared, it can't be kept as a pet," she said. "I only wanted to save the bear, I had no intention of exploiting it."
A video of the bear was also posted on social media by a Facebook user Ida Shareena which sparked off a series of criticism aiming at the singer who was accused of poaching the bear for purposes of selling it off illegally.
Dismissing claims of selling protected wildlife, she stated “I run a business in the day and at night I sing … when would I have the time to sell animals?”
While poaching of a wild animal is an offence privy to a jail term, the accused stood her grounds,
"I let Bruno out of its cage to roam about because I did not want it to sit in the cage for too long, that would have been even crueler,”.
Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim informed that the bear estimated to be between five to seven months old was in good health and currently in the department's custody.
While Zarith Sofia Mohd Yasin was charged under Sections 69 (1) and 86 (1)(e) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 with keeping the animal without a permit and in a situation that is not conducive to its well-being.
The department is yet to decide what to do with the bear which is still in its nurturing stage.