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).
On 31 July 2012, our Vietnam rescue team successfully removed a young, female bear from Cat Ba Island and ferried her home to the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park.
She was the last of 16 bears once captive on the island but reduced over the years as the local Forest Protection Department (FPD) gradually convinced their owners to give them up. Cat Ba Island is now bear farm free.
This rescue was a culmination of a year-long effort initiated by Rick Passaro of the Cat Ba Langur Project who convinced the owner, a well-known local businessman developing eco-tourism on the island, to give up the bear.
Nicknamed “Cat Ba” after her island home and meaning “beach lady” or “sand lady”, this young girl is around seven years old, but looks younger. According to officials from the Cat Ba Forest Protection Department (FPD), she is unregistered and un-chipped and was thus being kept illegally. Cat Ba appears to have been well looked after by the owner, who built her a cave attached to her display cage where she could retreat into hiding when she pleased.
The rescue was straight forward and very quick, wrapping up in less than an hour, with assistance from the local FPD and the owner in moving Cat Ba from her display cage into our transport cage and onto the truck.
On the move
The biggest problem was getting Cat Ba off the island, as there is no direct ferry to the mainland that can carry vehicles. Getting home involved catching two ferries – from Cat Ba to Cat Hai Island and from there, another ferry to the mainland.
Everything went smoothly, as the team caught the first ferry and avoided a long wait, but their luck ran out when the ferry developed engine trouble and it took almost an hour to get it going again.
Ferrying Cat Ba home
Overall, it took eight hours from Cat Ba Island to the rescue centre at Tam Dao, and our newest family member made the trip well. She is currently settling into her new home where she will first undergo quarantine before moving slowly through the steps of her rehabilitation – from recovery cage to den to integration with other bears, to outside in the green enclosures, where she can finally roam free.
Cat Ba is welcomed to the rescue centre at Tam Dao.
Rescue team: Senior veterinary surgeon Kirsty, bear worker Tuan, Dr The and Vietnam director Tuan.