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My, haven’t we grown?

Visiting our Vietnam rescue centre in Tam Dao this week, I couldn’t wait to get around and see all the bears. And, in return, adorable cubs Maggie, Angus and little Taurus couldn’t wait to show me what mischievous little delinquents they’d grown into today. 

Our poor bear team works tirelessly to create a world of fun and exploration in the form of novel toys, paddling pools, boxes full of sawdust, climbing ladders and tyres – only to see all their efforts trashed in about 10 seconds once the doors open into the cubs’ playroom. 

With toys lying beaten and broken, the cubs turn to each other for more boisterous enrichment and test their strength with all the force of competing sumo wrestlers. 

Angus has proven to be a tolerant playmate for Taurus and will hold back on biting down too hard, while his sister Maggie obviously thinks that all this rough play is beneath her and quietly amuses herself with the remnants of the toys or by splashing happily in her pool. 

Like everyone in the team, Belinda, our Senior Bear Manager, obviously adores them all and, although we don’t have favourites (much), she seems particularly close to Taurus the terror (whose unruly behaviour, I should point out, is no reflection on his kind sponsors, Jo Politis and Richard Collins from Adelaide, Australia!)

Here are some pics of this adorable little guy - being handed over to vet Leanne on May 5th by the forest protection authorities, who we were thrilled to see had provided good care for Taurus since his confiscation.

... and once settled in at the rescue centre:

 Over the past few weeks, “little” Taurus has surprised everyone with how much he’s grown – from his original weigh-in at 2kgs when rescued, to the healthy and very robust 18+kgs he is today. 

Belinda, who has managed wild animals for nearly 20 years, has been enjoying some last bear hugs before Taurus says goodbye to his tactile infant life and enters a new “hands-off” stage of his development. 

Because he was stolen from his mother as a tiny cub, (she was most likely killed by poachers), he has needed the touch and warmth of some surrogate loving arms – and Belinda has been more than happy to provide hers! 

As she explains, “We have continued to give Taurus some special attention because even though he has two new friends that he loves very much, he still looks at us as mom, so we wanted to take ourselves out of the picture slowly.”

Now though, he is old enough – and certainly big enough – to move on to the next stage of his development. Belinda and the vet team agree that one day over the next week or so, tactile contact with his carers, which has been essential for his development up until now, will cease. 

He’ll be moved into a den full of enrichment items – challenging toys to keep him busy for hours, tubs filled with water or sawdust, ropes to swing from and ladders to climb – it will be a bit like his first day at school! 

Here, Taurus will spend his days playing with Maggie and Angus through their interlinking dens.

More soon on other bears in Vietnam, including David and Lamma, our two gorgeous sun bears, who have eyes for no one but each other. 

 

 

 

 

 

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