In the final part of a four-part series we look back to the New Year Rescue that took place early in January 2013 and track the progress of the six bears who joined us at our China sanctuary. In the year that followed, their existence changed from painful daily extractions in tiny cages to rehabilitation and the start of new lives and friendships.
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for Peter (above) and Shamrock (top) – but shared, experiences and the persistence of Peter bear soon saw these two racing round their enclosure enjoying being first friends.
Handsome Peter, the only boy bear among five rescued ladies, was named after Animals Asia Ambassador, actor Peter Egan, who has watched his namesake’s progress.
The first footage of play fights had Peter (the actor!) admitting to one or two tears.
Meanwhile Peter bear and Shamrock’s blossoming friendship has gone from strength to strength after years in sad isolation in tiny cages.
Peter arrived in the smallest cage despite being a long, long bear. He was ravenously hungry and staff reported that he ate and ate – polishing off everything offered in seconds. His injuries were considerable – hideously thickened pads with indentations from the bars of his cage, an ulcerated area round his bile extraction sight, and a massively scarred gall bladder. Shamrock fared little better. She was bleeding from her paws, and was covered in wounds – especially on her head where she had banged it against the bars of the cage throughout her years on the farm.
After a thorough medical examination, the two spent a few months alone in personal dens to recover. Shamrock’s entry was particularly dramatic as she paused and did her best Neil Armstrong impression while taking a first slow step into her new surroundings. One small step for a bear – one giant leap for bearkind.
Eventually the two bears were introduced. At first they were suspicious and endured a stand-off, but distrust soon gave way to friendship.
Despite this great progress, the two bears still haven’t been introduced into the wider bear population at Chengdu. Their obsession for food took a while to calm and for them to stop being overly protective of anything they wanted to eat. But it looks increasingly like an early summer move for this couple. For now they have their own private pad with attached gardens – a true honeymoon period.
When the times come for them to join their new bear friends – they will do so together.
Huge thanks to photographer Peter Yuen for his wonderful photos. You can see his website here and his Facebook page here. Pictures from Animals Asia can be ordered here with profits going towards our campaign to End Bear Bile Farming.