SUNWAY LAGOON AND SUNWAY UNIVERSITY EXPLORE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES



Sunway City, 17 August 2020 – Sunway Lagoon and Sunway University see a joint collaboration between the two entities towards the enhancement of tertiary education in Malaysia, built on the strong, rich and diverse heritage and legacy shared by both parties. Representing Sunway Lagoon at the revealing educational board ceremony, which is held at Sunway Lagoon, was Calvin Ho, Executive Director of Sunway Theme Parks.

 


Representing Sunway University at the ceremony is Dr. Elizabeth Lee, Senior Executive Director of Sunway Education Group. Also resent were Associate Professor Dr. Shyamala Ratnayeke, Department of Biological Sciences. Associate Professor Dr. Shyamala Ratnayeke studies the ecology and conservation of tropical mammals and the biology of invasive species. In 2002, she received an International Research Fellowship Award from the US National Science Foundation to conduct research on wild carnivores in Sri Lanka, including a pioneering study on the sloth bear. She began work on the ecology and population genetics of sun bears and invasive apple snails when she joined Sunway University.

The unveiling of this particular research project on sun bears shows reflects the development of conservation educational programs between Sunway Lagoon and Sunway University. All Asian bears are threatened by habitat loss and poaching for body parts that are commercially valuable for traditional Asian medicine and cuisine. The collaboration between the university and Sunway Lagoon is to create greater awareness among visitors of the problems faced by sun bears and to inspire action that will help to conserve our unique native wildlife. There are two subspecies of sun bears in Malaysia,the Malayan subspecies (Helarctos malayanus malayanus) is found in Peninsular Malaysia and the Bornean subspecies (Helarctos malayanus euryspilus) is found in Borneo. It is relatively difficult to differentiate between subspecies based on
physical characteristics, although Bornean sun bears are smaller on average; therefore, research on the species’ phylogeny is important. Sun bears are listed as Totally Protected Wildlife under the Second Schedule of our Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. Dr. Shyamala collaborates with Dr. Jactty Chew, a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, Sunway University. They’ve btained funding from Sunway University, Lancaster University, and three years of funding from the international Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) Grant for their research on landscape characteristics and population genetic structure of Sun bears in Malaysia.

One of the projects aims to assess genetic variation of sun bears in Malaysia, and Sunway Lagoon is pleased to contribute genetic samples from the sun Bear in the wildlife park. Together with other samples offered by PERHILITAN (Department of Wildlife and National Park) and BSBCC (Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre), the first study to evaluate genetic divergence between peninsula and Bornean subspecies has been made possible.

Meanwhile, the undertaking between Sunway Lagoon and Sunway University is to promote the nited Nation’s global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the creation of edutainment platforms. Calvin Ho said, “Our global renowned SDG focus on sustainability and lifelong learning makes Sunway Lagoon more than just a theme park. We are firm ‘bea-lievers’ of merging science and tangible experiences to all our guests”. Dr. Elizabeth also said, “A small act of kindness and compassion towards a single animal today is the very act which will ensure the sustainability of the fellow creatures who share the earth with us. As joint inhabitants of this planet we need to protect each other, preserve the environment and ensure the future. Just as the sun-bears are an endangered species, so is our eco-system, the fabric of our existence. Sunway supports the SDGs and strives to safeguard all lives on land, in the air and under the sea. Won’t you all join us?” For more information on Sunway Lagoon, please visit www.sunwaylagoon.com.

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