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Farewell “Papermoon”

So sorry to bring you more sad news from Chengdu. We have just lost Papermoon, who has been with us for nearly eight years and was one of the original three bears who started this amazing journey with us all. 

We’ll all miss her – she had a temper on her that would make bears and people jump in surprise – opinionated, stubborn, but with a gentle and affectionate side too. 

One of the elderly matriarchs of the enclosure, this larger than life bear, who the rescue centre staff nicknamed “Gail”, made us smile for reasons we’re not really sure of.




Papermoon passed away late on Wednesday night after a battle well fought. I’m in Spain now and it was the saddest of calls to hear Heather at midnight (her time in China) saying there was nothing more that she and the team could do. These amazing girls had, once again, sat with a bear through several nights checking her, reassuring her, doing everything they could.

Papermoon, sponsored by a lovely lady in Germany, was such a fighter. She was one of the first group of three bears we received on a cold night of October 2000 – in a crush cage just behind Andrew and Melody. Beside herself with rage and fear, she convulsed almost incessantly from the time she arrived. 

Her body was such a mess. Badly arthritic, teeth and paw tips hacked away, a horrible latex catheter that protruded from her abdomen and then snaked under her skin and exited at the hip – with all the underlying infection you’d expect. As if that wasn’t enough she had a huge dinner-plate-sized burn on her back – festering, weeping and obviously terribly painful.

Although the surgery went well, Papermoon’s temper and convulsing didn’t improve in all the time she was in the recovery cage. It was only when she was put into a den – with Heather, Crystal and Joy that she started behaving like a bear.

Since then, these four “girls” remained together – clustered around in a tight little group, “gossiping” for hours on end and earning the most appropriate name of “the knitting circle”. Woe betide any silly young male who sauntered too close – they were taking no nonsense and would all open wide mouths of warning, which would see the boldest male scuttling back into the safety of his own den. 

The group lost Joy from liver cancer in 2004 and will be all the quieter now for the loss of “Gail”.

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