Singer charged for keeping bear in her condo

The sun bear was quickly rescued after it was found by the singer's neighbours.

By Huzraifah Atikah

Singer Zarith Sofia Mohd Yasin today claimed trial to two charges of illegally keeping a sun bear cub in her condominium.

In the first charge, the 27-year-old singer from Johor was accused of harbouring a sun bear cub without a special permit and the second charge is for sheltering the bear cub in an unsuitable and non-conducive environment.

She allegedly committed both offences at her Sentrio Pandan condominium at Desa Pandan in Kuala Lumpur around 8pm on June 6.

In Malaysia, sun bears are listed as endangered and protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, making it an offence to simply possess any specimen of the species, whether alive or dead.

Those found guilty can be punished with up to 10 years jail or a maximum fine of RM200,000, or both.

Prosecutors asked the court to impose a bail of RM30,000, saying it was a serious offence and to restrict the accused from disturbing other witnesses.

But her lawyer asked for bail to be reduced, saying Zarith Sofia had to support her parents.

“Her father has also just undergone surgery to remove a tumour.”

The magistrate then set bail at RM10,000 for both charges with one surety.

She also ordered Zarith Sofia to surrender her passport to the court until the end of trial and to report to a police station on the first day of every month.

The singer was arrested after neighbours called in the authorities when they spotted the bear at the window of the condo.

She later said she mistook it for a dog and even named it Bruno! 

Zarith Sofia, who is also a contestant on the ‘Rockanova’ reality show, said when she realised Bruno was not a dog, she couldn’t let it go because she wanted to nurse the endangered animal back to health first.

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She said she had no intention of keeping the six-month-old cub, which she purportedly found in a weak state in Bukit Ampang last month.

“Actually, I found the bear cub by the roadside in a weak condition at night. At first, I thought it was a dog,” she said. 

The sun bear discovery happened on the second day of Hari Raya as Zarith Sofia left the sun bear alone in her condo because she was away at her hometown for the celebrations.

Neighbours then called the authorities and she also rushed back home. 

She claimed that she had left enough food for him, saying:

“If Bruno could talk, he would definitely say the food I gave him was delicious!”

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Zarith was also trolled by netizens over the issue.