Bear in the picture: Mara

12 December 2014

Mara after rescue in 2007

The picture was taken in 2007 and shows moon bear cub Mara in a temporary cage after being discovered by Forest Protection Department staff in remote Dien Bien province, Vietnam.

That dirty, starving and traumatised cub was discovered in a secret compartment under a passenger bus travelling from Laos to Vietnam.

Thankfully, the beautiful and fragile bear cub, who weighed just 2.5kg, has been with us ever since – blissfully unaware of the fate that was so nearly hers.

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE playing with bear cub Mara

Other arrivals that day were Mausi and Olly who have always been Mara's best friends. Their shared history is their shared bond and the three have grown up together like brothers and sisters.

They've tried the patience of their carers with their juvenile mischief – climbing the trees they aren't meant to climb and making splinters out of lovingly assembled sanctuary equipment – but one look at Mara's gorgeous face and healthy body is enough to melt any heart.

Mara enjoys her enclosure at VBRC

As they've grown so the relationship between the three has changed. The girls stopped tolerating rambunctious Olly's wrestling some time ago, but luckily he's found more robust pals like big boys Irwin Jnr and Jarvis to spend his time with.

Girls Mara and Mausi prefer a more sedate life, foraging or napping peacefully together.

And considering the life that was so nearly hers – to be sold into the bear bile industry – there can be no doubt that Mara more than deserves the peaceful, cruelty-free life her carers have been privileged to give her.

Meeting the new neighbours

Animals Asia Bear Manager Sarah Dempsey said:

"Looking at these old pictures, it's hard to believe they're the same bear. It's strange to think beautiful calm Mara was ever this fragile, scared cub in a tiny cage. She's a huge part of the sanctuary now. We can't imagine not having her, Mausi and Olly around really."

Mara playing in her enclosure at VBRC