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Bright new world for 'Misa Hai'

Good news from Vietnam! We recently welcomed a lovely 14-year-old male moon bear (nicknamed “Misa Hai”) to our Vietnam sanctuary. This poor boy had spent years trapped in a dark, dingy cage built into a couple’s kitchen in their house in Hue in central Vietnam (about 720km from our Tam Dao rescue centre). I’ll hand over to our Vietnam Director, Tuan, for details of the rescue and “Misa Hai’s” tragic story.

He was bought by the owner when he was a cub of about 30kg, when he was attacked by a group of soldiers. Misa Hai was hit across the face with a plank resulting in some damage to his face and teeth. He was kept in the owners’ kitchen at the back in a very dark area. We could hardly see him because it was so dark and we could not see inside the cage or the flooring. The owners were forced to hand the bear to us when they could not conform to the Hue Forest Protection Department’s latest inspection requirements, thus it was a voluntary confiscation. 

He has very bad teeth, with virtually no front teeth, a combination of initial injury and a very bad diet of congee/soup like meals. 

Although the owners (a middle-aged couple) showed genuine concern for Misa Hai, they could not explain why they kept him in such bad conditions, and for so long. They said they extracted bear bile only once a year and for their own use, because they were both diabetic. But they had a sign outside their house advertising the sale of fresh bear bile. And on occasion, the owner let out that they extracted bile every few months or so. 

Overall, the rescue went well, although it was difficult because the cage was so dark and we had to work in the dark inside the cage when we tried to get Misa out. Hue FPD, Hue TV and local press, and the owner were very impressed with Leanne and Kirsty’s vet skills in darting and doing a quick health-check, including intravenous fluid transfusion, and the level of professionalism of our team in carrying out the rescue. 

Hue FPD was very organised and helpful, and they have informed me that Hue Province now has no official bear farm.

And an update from vet Kirsty after Misa Hai’s health-check back at the rescue centre: 

He was such a good boy – rode back into the quarantine area in a TC [transport cage] and looked like he was really enjoying the ride – or actually like he thought he was driving the TC!

Much more relaxed than when he first arrived. His anaesthetic went very smoothly and he got a thorough check over and was in pretty good shape considering his history, until of course we got to his mouth.

[Vet] Leanne’s description of the teeth was “they are all repulsive. His back teeth were all loose as well, and when we wobbled them, pus poured out from around them. So needless to say, he lost almost all of them, and is left with bottom incisors (now white instead of black) and only three other teeth. The old fracture at the front of his upper jaw, and the fistulas leading to his nose were both examined, but sadly are beyond repair.

He is now doing really well – frequently seen lounging around on his back. He is struggling to eat anything other than blended mush and will probably be like this until his gums all heal, but luckily he loves his food and seems to get just as excited about blended mush as anything else. And he will be getting lots of smeary enrichment which he also loves. :-) 

He still has a long way to go, but this beautiful bear will never again live in darkness and fear. Instead he’ll have a bright new world to explore – every day for the rest of his life. Please see here for more photos from the rescue.

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