Meet Fritz who's foraging for food from a hanging bamboo puzzle-feeder.
Staff at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre stuff tasty treats into toys like this to keep the bears mentally stimulated and provide essential exercise.
Fritz spent a long time balancing on his hind legs, stretching for the delicious morsels hidden inside the bamboo and trying to figure out a way to get it out and into his big moon bear belly. In the end he decided to go instead for “lower hanging fruit” while continuing to mull over how to get the trickier treats next time around.
Daily stimulation like this is a far cry from Fritz’s past life in a bear bile farm near Vietnam’s iconic Halong Bay. Fritz used to be one of the many bears stuck on farms near the World Heritage Site and he still bears the scars. They're to be found on either side of his face where the mental torture of bile farm life caused him to swing his head repeatedly against the bars of his cage.
Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director Annemarie Weegenaar recalls how Fritz has changed since arriving in July 2010:
“While in a cage Fritz was very stressed and he head swayed a lot, causing the scarring on his forehead. Once at our sanctuary, he took a long time to adapt, showing nervous behaviour for many months. But slowly he started calming down and letting go of his cruel past. There are times when he gets a fright and runs to the dens to fall back into his old habit of head swaying. But he calms down much quicker these days and soon returns to the enclosure to forage, find a friend to wrestle with or go to one of the baskets in the dens for a snooze.”
And who knows, maybe next week Fritz will work out how to salvage something scrumptious from the swinging bamboo? Onward and upward, rescue and rehabilitation and always, always progress.
Happy Moon Bear Monday everyone!