A long hot summer with friends is on the cards at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre as six of the facility’s youngest bears have been successfully integrated.
The process saw staff integrate cubs Rain and Nora JamJack (formerly Misty), with juveniles Ricky, Joey, James and Dung forming a group nicknamed the cub pack.
Ricky, Joey, James and Dung were the first to meet. James and Ricky immediately played with each other, while big sister Dung remained more aloof, sniffing the new arrivals from a safe distance.
When James joined them all three boys started playing while Dung continued to hang back.
But by the afternoon the group were let out into the enclosure for an afternoon of fun.
Then it was Nora JamJack and sister Rain’s turn to meet their new friends.
First they met through bars by being placed in adjacent dens. As before, Dung was the most cautious of the bears, but by the following day even she was leaning against the bars to be closer to Rain and Nora JamJack so they could sniff and lick at her.
Animals Asia staff then played matchmaker by setting up an enclosure with non-food enrichment items, to give the new friends plenty to bond over.
Given that Nora JamJack and Rain are smaller and younger than the other bears, the group of four were let through one at a time starting with the bears they are most familiar with. Ricky and Joey both went straight past their new friends to see what breakfast scraps they could forage, while Nora JamJack and Rain were delighted to finally be able to jump on and wrestle the boys.
James and Dung were then let through and blind James assumed his usual role playing and wrestling with everyone. Later Dung grew in confidence and played a little with Rain and Nora JamJack – less intimidated by the smaller females than she initially was by Ricky and Joey.
Bear Manager Sarah Dempsey, said:
“By the afternoon all six bears were given access to the main enclosure – the first time Nora JamJack and Rain had been in such a large space. They hung back a few minutes while the others went out. Then Nora JamJack made a tentative dash out and ran back to encourage her sister outside. Once both girls were out they proceeded to dash around like black lightning, pausing only to play with enrichment, climb structures and wrestle other bears.”
“We’ve had so much pleasure watching these young bears playing in their pairs over the last few months, it’s going to be quite a summer for both them and the staff now that they are all together. Seeing them so excited and stimulated is the best reward, dashing around playing with everyone and everything.”
Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:
“I can’t tell you how much we’ve been looking forward to getting these six cubs and juveniles together. They are so, so playful and curious and happy to be out in the enclosure. Of course, all these new friendships is invaluable for their welfare too, their lives have truly been enriched by each other – as have ours.”
The six bears were all poached as cubs and destined for Asia's wildlife trade before being discovered by Vietnam’s various Forest Protection Departments and rescued by Animals Asia. They arrived at the VBRC in pairs between September 2012 and March 2014.