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).
Thursday 9 October: Last week our Vietnam team returned to Dien Bien Province, from where we rescued our first three cubs, Mara, Mausi and Olly, over one year ago. This time, the team was on a mission to recover a sun bear, at the request of the Dien Bien Forestry Protection Department (FPD).
This bear, currently nicknamed Munchkin, was confiscated from a bear farm on 12 September after a tip off, and was found to have no microchip or registration. The owner claimed to have had the bear for a number of years, since it was a cub, but was unsure of its age.
Little Munchkin weighs in at around 20 – 25kg only, but certainly knows how to fight her own corner. She was very defensive, displaying aggression to any one that approached. “However”, our Vietnam director, Tuan says “I have a feeling that with lots of TLC she will turn out to be a lovely bear.”
After a very short time at our sanctuary, the bear and vet teams agree. Says Jen our vet, “She really isn't aggressive at all, I think to be honest, she was very stressed by the whole move and the journey. She is a little tentative but with gentle husbandry she is just divine!” After a thorough health check back on-site, the vet team estimate Munchkin to be at least 2 years old.
It was a long trip – about 13 hours each way - as the road to Dien Bien has been badly affected by recent flooding with lots of landslides, and it took 6hrs alone to travel the last 180km. The trip was also extended because night travel was out of the question due to the road conditions. However, despite the difficulties, Munchkin and the team arrived safely back in Tam Dao on Sunday evening, 12 October.
Overall it was a good rescue and our regular rescue team member, bear worker Tuan, took very good care of Munchkin throughout the journey back.
When the team arrived back in Tam Dao, Vietnam TV 1 was there to film the arrival. This station and the local NGO, Environment Nature Vietnam were eager to publicise the rescue to show that some provincial FPDs are enforcing the law by confiscating illegal bears from bear farms. We were happy to co-operate in the hope that one bear’s story will encourage other provincial FPDs to follow suit and work on releasing farm bears into our care.
What a cutie: Little Munchkin gets ready to hit the road, after being moved to the van.
It was a long, tiring journey home for Munchkin who was made as comfortable as possible with browse to nest in and banana leaves to play with and snack on.
After a round trip of about 26 hours, Munchkin and the team arrive safely home.