The first time we saw Oliver was in April 2010 when he was rescued along with nine other bears from a farm in Shandong province. His long, misshapen body was flat to the bottom of his cage and his barely open eyes showed nothing but pain and despair. This old, old bear had simply given up.
Oliver’s story was tragic — he had spent his entire 30 years trapped in a tiny cage, as his bile and his life were systematically drained from his body – and his rescue dramatic, as mid-way through a four-day journey back to the sanctuary in Chengdu, he underwent life-saving surgery on the back of a truck, parked in a hospital car-park, amid freezing temperatures and driving rain.
We didn’t know then whether he would even make it home alive, but we did know that this bear – at the end of his natural lifespan – deserved every chance to feel the grass under his paws, even for just one day.
And how this wonderful, wise, old bear amazed us all with his dogged determination to recover and experience all the joys and wonders of his new home.
Today, Oliver is a different bear – restored in spirit and with the light of life in his eyes. Stiff but mobile, he spends his days happily pottering around his enclosure, foraging for pieces of fruit and shuffling over to cool off in his much-loved rock pool.
He simply adores his toys and special treats — seeing him shuffle as fast as he can out of his den in the morning to see what new and exciting tastes, smells and colours await him outdoors is truly one of life’s great joys.
Oliver seems to love everything about his new life – paddling in his rock pool and slurping on fruity ice blocks perhaps most of all – but also the bowl of fresh water he curls around to sleep at night and the soft and leafy browse that cushions his body – simple joys, but golden to a bear who knew nothing but thirst and pain for three decades.
Oliver has touched the hearts of people across the world. He is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the bear bile industry, but also a symbol of everything we work so hard for together.
We could not provide for Oliver and our rescued bears without your help! Many wonderful supporters have already committed to their care by joining our Sponsor a Bear programme, sponsoring their own special bear and thereby supporting them all.
Click on the link below to find out more about this monthly giving programme and help end bear farming for good.