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).
Mausi and Mara were a sorry sight when they were picked up by the AAF team in Dien Bien.
Jill has her hands full feeding Mausi, while dealing with cheeky Olly.
Animals Asia has some new (and utterly adorable) family members – three tiny Moon Bear cubs.
Our Vietnam Director, Tuan Bendixsen, said Olly (a boy) and girls Mara and Mausi were discovered in a secret compartment under a passenger bus travelling from Laos into Vietnam after customs officials received a tip-off. The cubs were handed to the Dien Bien Forest Protection Department (FPD), which does not have an animal-holding facility.
The FPD asked the Dien Bien Provincial Government what they should do with the cubs, and they were told to hand them over to a government-run restaurant/hotel complex where they would be kept in display cages for tourists. Luckily, by this stage, we had been informed about the cubs by Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and after some lengthy negotiations with the FPD, they were released into our care.
The poor cubs were in a sorry state when the team arrived to pick them up – filthy and malnourished. Senior Bear Manager Annemarie Weegenaar said the hardy little trio endured a 15-hour road trip over the mountains to their new home at the sanctuary, traversing the treacherous Pha Din Pass, where the AAF team had to wait while the road was bulldozed to allow them through. “Most of the time, though, the cubs happily snoozed or play-wrestled in their transport cage,” she said.
After just a few weeks at our sanctuary, under the competent and loving care of Ms Wegeenar and Vet Nurse Candice Bloom, Olly, Mara and Mausi had turned into little bundles of energy and fun.
My delight in meeting the cubs was tainted with sadness by the knowledge that they had been snatched from their mothers and not knowing what the final fate of their mothers had been. I hate to think what might have happened to the cubs if the smuggler had been successful, as we are sure that they were destined for a bile farm and life of torture.
Soon this mischievous trio will be released into a semi-natural enclosure at the sanctuary. Construction of the quarantine area, surgical facilities, dens with large outside enclosures and rehabilitation areas is now back on track after some frustrating and heartbreaking delays. We are now planning to start the major rescue of 200 farmed Moon Bears later in 2007.
Our rescue centre will eventually be the focus of the foundation’s campaign to end bear farming, with an education centre, viewing area and herb garden for visitors. Fifty terrified, sick and emaciated Moon Bears will start arriving at the sanctuary soon. That’s when our real work will begin. But for now, at least these adorable cubs are safe and sound with us and they’ll never know the terrible cruelty of the bile farms.
Along with other NGOs – ENV, WAR, TRAFFIC and WSPA – we will continue to work to ensure a better future for all Moon Bears in Vietnam.
But back to our gorgeous cubs! We think that Mara and Mausi could well be sisters, and that Olly is probably from a different litter. However, none of that matters because they’re all part of our family now – and, as ever, we have people like you to thank for helping us to bring them home.
Adventurous Olly explores his temporary surroundings at the rescue centre.
After their gruelling journey, the cubs settle in at the sanctuary with Tuan, Annemarie and Candice.
Even naughty Olly needs a little nap after a hard day's mischief.
Aw shucks! Sometimes all the attention just gets too much!