A singer has been fined over 5,000 GBP for keeping a ‘vulnerable’ sun bear in her flat despite insisting that she thought the animal was actually a cute puppy.
Singer Zarith Sofia Mohd Yasin, 28, has been handed a 27,000-MYR (5,073-GBP) fine in-lieu of prison sentence for keeping the sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) in her flat in Desa Petaling in southern Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
Yasin, who made her name by appearing on the ‘Rockanova’ reality show, was given a 20,000-MYR (3,758-GBP) fine, in lieu of six months imprisonment, for keeping the sun bear and another 7,000 MYR (1,315 GBP) for confining the bear in lieu of four months in prison.
The bear was snapped at the singer’s flat in June 2019 with its head out of the window. She said that she had found it in a weak condition on the street and thought it was a dog.
She was later charged under the Wildlife Conservation Act and reports state she initially claimed she thought the bear was a puppy before eventually pleading guilty at trial. The bear was taken and cared for by Malaysia’s Wildlife and National Parks Department.
Her lawyer Nik Muammer Hurrie Mohamad Sukri had asked for her to be spared prison time, saying it was her first offence and that “She only wanted to rescue the animal and had no intention of trading it for profit”.
The lawyer added: “When the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) found the animal, it was in good health.”
The sun bear is native to tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia and is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
The two major threats to sun bears are habitat loss and commercial hunting.
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