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).
The surviving bears from the February 6 rescue continue to do well. They are still in their recovery cages in rehab, a necessary step in their recuperation before they can be released into dens, and finally successfully integrated with others. After almost eight weeks at the rescue centre, each bear's unique character is starting to shine through more as the days go by.
Pierre is a young bear and was very apprehensive when he first arrived. The teams assessed him as capable of “fear biting” and clawing and advised that caution should always be maintained around him. His stereotypic behaviour began to decrease quickly however and within a week, Pierre was eating all around him - except for rice and oranges, which he shows obvious disdain for! He doesn’t have much interest in toys but loves playing with straw and browse. We have a bit of concern about kidney damage so Pierre has access to water at all times, which of course he also plays with now – pawing it out of the bowl on a regular basis! He continues to pace a bit but is already a different bear from arrival nearly eight weeks ago. Pierre’s recovery cage is right across from Barbarella’s and they spend all day communicating with each other through raspberry sounds.
As soon as we saw Barbarella we noticed that she was having problems with mobility and was not taking her weight on her hind legs. She was however, eating well and showed a particular liking for watermelon. At first, Barbarella spent a lot of time curled up sleeping, though was curious and active when awake. Within a couple of weeks she was showing vast improvement, no longer sleeping and, as her carers remarked, seemed “to be coming our of a nightmare which she wanted to sleep through previously”. She is a chubby bear who loves burrowing into her straw and
hates citrus fruit. Barbarella continues to display some weakness in her hind legs, and cannot stand for long, though this doesn’t stop her from chatting with Pierre most days.
Louis arrived as a very thin bear and at first we suspected blindness as he seemed to have difficulty tracking food. This didn’t however stop him enjoying it – he loved his food from the start – apple, watermelon and banana leaves being his favourite! He is a very long bear and is filling out nicely. Louis has endeared himself to the bear teams with a gorgeous face and big “Mickey Mouse” ears. He continues to get extra helpings of food as he is permanently hungry!
Jack is a female bear with a chubby body. She loves fruit, likes veggies, but refuses to even look at dog food! She head swayed a lot on arrival, but did show interest in straw and rawhide toys. Jack also had hyperkeratotic pads and ulcers in her mouth. She loved fruit shakes from the beginning and eats slowly as if savouring every bite. She continues to head sway, and has wounds on her head from previous swaying in her cage on the farm. We are hopeful that intensive enrichment and toys will reduce this. Jack is quite playful and loves reaching out of her cage and play swiping at people as they pass!
Billie is a large- sized female and was the last bear off the truck on rescue day. From the beginning she was eating well and was clearly ravenous on arrival. Billie is a beautiful bear who loves to play and is curious and alert to all around her. She is very meticulous with her straw and works long and in great detail to create the "perfect" bed. Billie continues to have a great appetite - though doesn’t like cabbage - and is still very curious about her new world. Like Jack, she now swipes playfully through the bars if people come too close – she is not aggressive at all but seems to like being mischievous! She shows little interest in toys, but loves straw and browse.
Cazza is a medium sized female who arrived in reasonable body condition but with severely restricted mobility and with clear problems in her hips and spine. She accepted food from the beginning but is not fond of cabbage and seems to have gone off oranges recently. Despite being given a clean, her coat is still a bit scruffy, but improving. Cazza likes to sleep a lot, but this seems perfectly normal for her as she's bright and active the rest of the time. She also loves playing with her toys and rubbing her head against enrichment stinky tofu – a smell she absolutely adores! She also loves straw, browse, and rawhide toys.
Leucadia is a medium sized female with a round body. She was very nervous, stereotypic and swipey on arrival and extra care was needed around her. She appeared to have decent mobility and to be in fairly good condition. Leucadia ate well from the beginning and loves fruit and veggies – but she will not eat dog food. She really likes straw and browse, and will sometimes play with toys. She is a quiet bear that rests a lot. For the first week, Leucadia remained very nervous and fairly aggressive, swiping at the team. Even though she still has a long way to go, she is now much more trusting, calm and alert and happier in general.
Dong Fang Hai Wai
This is a strong male with a very long body. He was thin for a bear of his size on arrival, but is building up nicely and seems addicted to food, polishing off every bowl with relish – and asking for more! Bear Manager Belinda and the bear team have upped his rations to feed his long back and limbs! Dong Fang only becomes restless when he wants more food and is otherwise a calm and playful bear, even peeling his oranges and just eating the fruit! He is very curious and loves to know what's going on all around him.
A big male bear with a great appetite! Hamster arrived at the rescue centre with two grossly overgrown nails which had grown straight through his footpad in a perfect circle. They smelled of decay and infection and were clearly horribly painful. These were naturally given priority and cut back as soon as possible to relieve his pain. The bear team nicknamed him Hamster as they watched him pull straw down from the top of the cage, one piece at a time, until he finally made a bed and then curled up like a hamster and fell asleep! Hamster loves most food, except cabbage, and eats heartily. He isn’t particularly fond of toys, but does like bones. He is a gorgeous looking bear
who is blooming in face and character.
Colin came in scared, with some swiping ability and exhibited stress-related stereotypic behaviour of nose rubbing and bar biting. He was also emaciated. He had lesions on his front right foot and hind left and a lot more on his back. Put on a course of antibiotics and some good nutritious food, Colin has come on in leaps and bounds. He has a great appetite and loves all kinds of food, and even reminds us when it’s close to food time, by impatiently pulling on his recovery cage door with his paw. He will sometimes play with toys but hasn’t much interest in straw. Today he is a much happier bear, though still puts his back leg to the back of the cage to make sure his new space is still there!
While we love to see the survivors improve, we cannot forget those who didn’t make it – Shui, Cao Mei and Carney. Although they didn’t get to sit in the sun, their last hours and days were spent in a safe environment where they at least experienced some kindness in their lives.