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).
Old bear friends transferred to Tam Dao Rescue Centre
Late November found a small group from our Vietnam rescue team back at the government-run Soc Son Rescue Centre to transfer bears that we have become familiar with over the years and months, to our Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre at Tam Dao.
The mission was in response to concern at Soc Son about the condition of an adult moon bear, suffering from a terrible skin condition that has rendered him almost completely bald. This bear had been at Soc Son for a number of years together with a life-long moon bear friend from his cub days. In view of this bond, it was agreed by all that it would be in the bears’ best interests to transfer both of them to their new home.
Baloo on arrival with skin thickened, darkened and almost hairless.
But that was only half the story – and the team was also very happy to be able to finally bring home two more moon bear cubs! These two little bears had been confiscated from smugglers in Quang Ninh province on their way to China, along with Olive, our recently rescued little sun bear. However, they remained at Soc Soc while we sorted out the formalities of transferring them to our rescue centre. During their extended stay, our vet and bear management teams at Tam Dao provided Soc Son with special milk powder and guidance on looking after them.
All have now settled into the rescue centre at Tam Dao and been given their den names.
First rescued was Baloo, who has a long-standing skin condition, with severe hair loss and thickening and discoloration of some of his skin. The vet team had noticed the deterioration in his condition on their visits to Soc Son over the past year, and the workers there report that he has had skin problems for a number of years. They had been treating it the best they could, but with minimal success.
When he arrived on-site at Tam Dao, his skin was giving off a strong, unpleasant smell and looked quite oily, which usually indicates a deep-seated infection. He was quite stressed on arrival and after a couple of days became quite dull, was noticed to drink a lot of water, and stopped eating. It was therefore decided to health-check him last week and get started on tests to try to get to the bottom of his skin condition, and to make sure there are no more serious health issues going on.
The vet team took samples for a number of tests and so far, nothing conclusive has come back – but they are still waiting for more results. Baloo also has problems in both eyes, so even though we are sure he can see a little, it is likely that his sight is quite compromised.
Senior veterinary surgeon, Kirsty has an update: “During the week since his health-check Baloo has been kept in hospital so we could watch him closely, and we are really pleased with his progress. He has started taking his antibiotic medication consistently, and already his skin looks drier and smells a lot better. We still think there is an underlying cause, but getting the surface infection under control is an important first step.
His appetite is slowly improving, and he has stopped drinking excessively. He has now been moved back down to the temporary quarantine area, next to his old friend Tinh Son, and we will continue to watch him closely. Because he is almost bald, he obviously feels the cold much more than the other bears, and so he is given lots of straw and every night makes himself a lovely nest to curl up in.”
Tinh Son, is doing well and is a very quiet and calm bear. At first we were concerned about the state of his teeth because he seemed to chew very tentatively and slowly, but as the week has gone on he has got better at chewing and seems to enjoy his food more. We believe he just wasn't used to so much fresh crunchy food! Tinh Son also has eye problems – the vet team suspects mature cataracts in both eyes – and we don't think he can see very much at all.
Our two new moon bear cubs - Bill and Ben – have already worked their own magic and are best described as “adorable”! They have huge personalities for such small bears and seem to be completely un-phased by their journey and their new home. Our maintenance team and our bear workers have done a fabulous job creating and furnishing a double recovery cage for them, which will be their home for the duration of their 45-day quarantine period.
Bill and Ben look out at their new home from a raised platform.
We are looking forward to the future for all the bears, and their next steps to recovery. Bill and Ben will move to a den and gradually be integrated with the other cubs on-site. As for Baloo and Tinh Son, we hope to see these friends grow old together in the comfort and security of our rescue centre, where they will continue to receive the best medical and all-round care we can provide.