#Moonbearmonday: Panja's enduring strength

24 July 2014

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Happy #moonbearmonday!

Gorgeous moon bear Panja may look young reclining on this hammock, but she is actually one of the oldest bears at Chengdu Bear Rescue Centre.

Way back in 1993, Panja was languishing on a bear farm when Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson made one of her first ever undercover visits.

As a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Jill and other founding members of Animals Asia, including Boris Chiao, convinced the Guangdong Province authorities to close the bear bile farm in 1995 and transfer the bears to a rescue facility they had set up in Panyu.

Even after Jill went on to found Animals Asia in 1998, they continued to help IFAW care for bears like Panja until 2004.

It was in 2009, with Panja (then named Elizabeth and nicknamed Bebe) and friends beginning to show signs of aging and requiring a long-term home with more companions, that IFAW and Animals Asia agreed to move Panja and four other survivors of Guangdong to the CBRC.

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Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“Panja was among the very first bears rescued from the awful bile industry in China and her story and journey are the inspiration for us never to give up until the very last bear farm is closed. She represents the start of it all and can take some credit for the hundreds of other bears rescued in Vietnam and China.”

As with any elderly moon bear, Panja is beginning to show her age.

During her last health check in November 2013, cardiologists Hannah Stephenson  and Chris Linney identified a thickened left ventricle and a dilated aorta as well as retinal hemorrhages consistent with hypertension sparking fears that this grand old moon bear dame would soon lose her sight.

Medication to control her blood pressure was prescribed while staff visually monitored Panja on a weekly basis while waiting to check her heart during her next health check..

Amazingly, her latest health check shows that her eyes are improving – no new haemorrhages have appeared and that Panja’s sight has been saved.

Animals Asia Resident Veterinarian Mandala Hunter said:

“We were all delighted to find that the medication had worked and that Panja wouldn’t lose her sight. She’s not young anymore, but overall, we are very happy with her improvement and we all love this gentle small bear to pieces!”

Happy #moonbearmonday everyone – there’s no better way to start the week.

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