With the transport cages lined up in the access lane and outside the trucks, it's time to get on with the loading. The first four cages are placed in order on both trucks, but with little room down the middle of the truck with all on board, these need to be secured carefully before the remaining three can be lifted on. So the bears are placed in the shade under large banana leaves, to recover from their recent anaesthetic.
Some of the bears are calm and curious – like little Miki, small enough to stand up in the transport cage, looking for attention and making small, questioning vocalisations.
Others, like Rajani are nervous. Rajani was distressed and jumpy at the bear farm, lashing out at any movement near her cage and she continues to react badly each time her cage is approached.
The transfer of the bears from their farm cages to Animals Asia's transport cages was swift and super-efficient, thanks to the FPD supervision and the co-operation of Mr Nguyen. Loading and securing the bears onto both trucks takes more time – these confused bears will be on the trucks for four to five days and it's important that they are as secure and comfortable as possible.
Each transport cage is carefully positioned along the sides of the trucks, with partitions that can be opened to provide food and water and allow access for cleaning, showering, and monitoring of each bear along the way.
Each cage is clearly marked with the bear's new registration number for the rescue centre, and water bowls and food dishes are also marked to avoid any cross infection or contamination.
With the paperwork still to be done on Tuesday afternoon, it is decided to settle the bears down for the night, and not move off early in the evening as originally planned. Better to have them recover fully from anaesthetic, rest and calm down, before heading off on Wednesday morning.
With the trucks moved back to our hotel, the bears are fed fresh fruit – including watermelon from a passing vendor – and given fresh green browse for the first time. Some sniff and are cautious, some eat the nourishing and tasty fruit right away and others busy themselves with the browse, playing with it immediately.
With bears and people fed and watered it's almost time to call it a day, in anticipation of an early start the next morning.
Vet Kirsty and vet nurse Caroline sum up the feelings of the day:
"Happiness tinged with sadness for those left behind. It's been a big day with 14 bears now on their way to a new life. It's a slow process, but it's exciting that this farmer was so pro-active and that makes us optimistic for the other bears. We're building relations and this rescue went smoothly so we're hopeful that in time, Mr Nguyen will be successful in his goal to close the entire farm," said Kirsty.
"We're looking forward to getting these bears home where we can assess them properly and take care of their needs, and it's very gratifying to see the changes that occur in individuals as they come to trust their carers and begin to investigate their new surroundings. The problem is bigger than individual bears of course, but that's where we have to start," added Caroline.
Welcome to the Animals Asia family:
Nelly, Ngoc Thai, Ngoc Ha, Rajani, Helina, Horatio, Miki, Caine, Ngoc Son, Dream Mischa Tebs, Tay Son, Tulip, Duffy and Lana.