Towards the end of May, we were informed that Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department (FPD) and the Quang Ninh Border Patrol Police had caught a Chinese national trying to cross the border from Vietnam into China with three bears in crush cages. The offender had no permit or papers of any kind to show the legality of the bears. The bears were confiscated and taken back to the Quang Ninh FPD compound in Ha Long Bay – about 150km from the border and about 400km from our sanctuary.
The bears had been transferred from the crush cages they were being transported in until we could come and rescue them. The Chinese man has refused to cooperate with the investigation and claimed he was moving the bears on behalf of someone else. At this stage the FPD does not know which farm the bears are from.
No one knows where the bears were heading, but being quite young they were most probably heading for a bear farm in China. The bears (two males and one female) weigh about 100kg each and all were in reasonably good condition when we got them.
Our Vietnam Director, Tuan, went with the rescue team to pick up the bears and the rescue went very well. The trip from Quang Ninh FPD compound to Tam Dao took almost six hours – partly because the temperature had risen to above 35 degrees C and because the FPD were concerned that the offender’s connections may try to get at the bears to remove evidence before the court case, they had given us a fully enclosed truck which would make identifying it more difficult.
The FPD even assigned two officers to accompany the bears back to Tam Dao. Because of the heat in the fully enclosed truck, we bought 10 1-metre slabs of ice in Ha Long Bay to keep the bears cool and we stopped every hour to hose them down and to give them watermelon.
While we don’t know for sure that these bears have been previously farmed for their bile, it is hard to imagine bears on a bear farm not being farmed at all. Thankfully, these little bears all have intact canines and paws, a welcome change from the state of many of the news arrivals to our China sanctuary.
These gorgeous new residents – now named Little Jane, Lexi and Marvin – have settled in well at the sanctuary and are responding very well to the new tastes, the attention, and most of all, their newfound safety and freedom.
The 3 bears as we found them, transferred into bigger cages.
The bears arrival at Tam Dao, and Little Jane looks out warily.