Confiscated bears released to the Moon Bear Rescue Centre, Tam Dao
Non-microchipped bears freed
While we wait and lobby for the release of 79 non-microchipped bears from farms in Halong Bay, other bears confiscated under the same conditions continue to arrive at the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao, Vietnam.
On 31 July we welcomed Yen Bai, a young male bear confiscated under a WSPA-sponsored monitoring project of bear farms in Yen Bai Province, Northern Vietnam. Yen Bai was unchipped and, in line with government regulations was therefore confiscated by the local Forest Protection Department (FPD). You can read the full story of Yen Bai’s rescue here.
On 5 September two female bears were rescued from Ha Nam FPD Station. According to the FPD they were confiscated in 2000 as they were found to be unchipped and have remained with the FPD since then. Vietnam Director, Tuan explains:
“Kept in a large cage inside a dark, corrugated iron shed, these bears were nervous and covered in filth. One of the bears is missing a right back paw, often a result of a snare trap while being “wild-caught”.
The bears were extremely dirty, being unable to avoid standing in their own waste.
It was a tricky rescue as the bars of the cage were so far apart, making it dangerous to get too close. As well as that, the bears became increasingly nervous as we dismantled the shed around them. However, despite the difficulties, the rescue went very well and we managed to negotiate with the Ha Nam FPD to take the cage as well, allowing us to move the bears safely back at Tam Dao, and also to stop them from putting more bears or other large animals into it.
Once back in Tam Dao the bears were very stressed and aggressive, and so were left together in the cage overnight to settle down. The next day each received a brief health check and were put into separate cages. They were extremely wary of people and the team was instructed to not only be extra careful, but to also be sensitive to the bears’ emotions at this point. No loud noises, no big, sudden movements, very delicately using the transport cage hooks, etc.
Now nicknamed BB and Pomelo, both bears have calmed down significantly in the intervening two weeks. They still cluck and get a bit nervous when the workers clean around their cages, but it seems they are starting to figure out that it's safe at the sanctuary, and nobody is going to hurt them. They have been very curious about all the new enrichment items that they have never seen before, and enjoy most of them and, like most bears we know, they love getting showers from the water hose!"
The bears had spent nine long years in this small shed.
Both bears were fearful and anxious as the rescue proceeded.
The shed was dismantled and the cage removed by crane.
On 11 September, another bear was rescued from Dien Bien Province, over 500km west of Hanoi. Everything went smoothly – the paper work, the hand over, the anesthesia, the transport, etc. We had luck on our side as on the way back the truck driver spotted a nail in his tyre as we stopped for petrol. This was indeed fortunate, as we were passing through mountain ranges with very winding roads and with very foggy condition that reduced visibility to less than 50m.
This female bear, now nicknamed "Easy" by bear manager Russell, was confiscated by Dien Bien FPD in late 2006 from a holding farm in a remote area of Dien Bien, because she was unchipped. At the time, Dien Bien FPD asked a holiday resort owner to look after her because there was nowhere else to keep her.
Easy in her transport cage on the truck during the trip back.
According to FPD, Easy was approximately the same weight when she was confiscated and originally, there were two bears confiscated. Dien Bien FPD told us about these two bears when we rescued our first three cubs in May 2007 but at the time we had just started developing the rescue centre and had no facilities for them.
Since then we have received many emails from our supporters and from tourists asking for intervention. We also sent an official letter to Dien Bien Provincial Govt asking for the release and the FPD showed us several more letters sent by individuals to the Vietnamese consulates in their countries. Unfortunately, it was too late for Easy’s partner, and the second bear died before the rescue was approved.
Tuan, Russell and Thao oversaw the removal of Easy, resulting in a trouble-free three-day rescue. Since then, Easy has settled in well and, according to bear manager, Belinda, "Easy got her name because she was very easy-going during the rescue, and that hasn't changed. She is a very good girl. Very calm, eats well, enjoys enrichment – we couldn't ask for a more well-behaved bear.”
Bear manager Russell, removes the bars to release an anaesthetised Easy.
A calm bear, Easy settled down quickly and took the trip in her stride.