A sanctuary meeting of moon bear groups
10 June 2014
When two mini moon bear communities came together to form a group of 15, Animals Asia staff had to orchestrate every detail to ensure the 15 individual personalities integrated smoothly.
The first to meet were Baruffa, Georges, Xin Xin and Thomas. They sniffed each other as the bear keepers held their breath.
Lots and lots and lots of happy moon bear wrestling!
The coming together was all part of the bear managers’ plan to integrate 15 bears at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre with the aim of maximizing space and outside playtime for all the bears.
To prepare for this mammoth integration session the team had cleared five adjoining dens ready for this moon bear social – complete with browse doubling as both toys and party snacks for the bears.
Buoyed by their early success, staff admitted Taz, Peter Robert Baynes, Birgit and Faith. Again the greetings were calm and familiar with Faith particularly happy to meet some potential new boyfriends. Later she would be so bold as to spend time sharing a basket with Taz.
Less successful was Bradley who was added with Cintron and kept trying to cosy up to a very patient but less- than-impressed Birgit.
Bela and Jenoe’s entrance was slightly more nervous as they initially ran away from unfamiliar bears and tried to hide in the dens’ higher spots. But once initial fears had been allayed, they calmed down and gently played with new friends Bradley and Cintron.
When Thao, Tieu Long and Isis were added the group was complete. Playing host, Thao confidently greeted any new bear he came across, while Tieu Long hung back and enjoyed the browse. Later he did decide to venture further and he was very friendly and playful, particularly with Faith who seemed quite taken by him.
Now that the group were all together in the den, staff tested relationships by introducing more food to the equation. Thankfully, there was no aggression besides slightly raised voices from the more food-driven individuals.
After dinner, the group settled in for further play and due to the warm weather a lot of snoozy relaxing.
The entire 15 enjoyed an overnight slumber party together before being allowed out to the enclosure as a group for the first time.
Bear Manager Sarah Dempsey, who oversaw the integration, said:
“These bears are on the most part all still quite young and this seemed to reflect in the speed and ease with which they integrated. For such a large group it was a really quick process. The larger group will provide everyone with more choices of who to play with and more physical and mental stimulation in their lives.”