years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
7 January 2011: Early Friday morning saw the rescue team set out from a chilly Tam Dao on their first rescue of the year. They were headed for Lai Chau province over twelve hours north-west of Hanoi, bordering China to rescue one female moon bear cub.
Weighing about 14-16kg and estimated to be around six months old, this little bear cub was confiscated by Lai Chau Police from a wildlife holding facility where she was in transit to Hanoi via Son La, having been smuggled through Dien Bien province. It is likely that she originated in Laos and was initially smuggled across the border to Vietnam. (Unfortunately, the owner of the facility made his escape into the forest and eluded the police.)
While being rescued and transferred to our care, the cub was very feisty and launched at anyone who came near her cage. She has a broken tooth from trying to tear the holding cage apart and the local Forestry Protection Department (FPD) saw some leeches came out of her nose when they first rescued her and took her back to the ranger station. Nicknamed "Han Chau - a cold Lai Chau" by Bear Team leader Phu, this young cubs experience of life has clearly not been kind and she will need time to adjust and learn to trust her new carers at the rescue centre. She does however, appear to be in reasonably good health, though a bit underweight.
Hampered by fog, progress was slow on the winding mountain roads.
The rescue went well overall, with Phu organizing and guiding the local FPD in moving and securing the cage onto the truck, and External Affairs Officer, The, dealing with the documentation and negotiating the red tape involved in all transfers such as this. The team left for home on Saturday afternoon and, although the return trip was slow going bad road conditions caused two flat tyres and dense fog on the mountain roads slowed driving to a crawl they arrived safely back with their new charge on Sunday afternoon.
Han Chau is now settling in to the rescue centre, where she will receive the best of care from our experienced vet and bear teams. We are optimistic that in time, she will adjust well to her new life and be able to join our ever-growing family of young bears.