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Four new bears and a visit from Santa!

Following the sad blogs on Vietnam over the past few days, it’s such a delight to let you know some good news coming out of Hanoi this week. Just recently our brilliant Vietnam team received clearance from the Hanoi government to transfer four bears to our sanctuary in Tam Dao. 

Waiting at the government rescue centre in Soc Son for several weeks before the transfer was approved, two of the bears (now nicknamed “Bill” and “Ben”) are cubs, and were originally confiscated with beautiful sun bear cub Olive a while ago by Quang Ninh Police on their way to China. Vet Kirsty describes them as about five months of age, doing well, and very cheeky indeed!

The other two bears – nicknamed “Tinh Son” and “Baloo” – will need quite intensive care. Baloo, especially, has terrible hair-loss – almost bald, with thickened skin showing areas of infection and inflammation. Safe now, our new family will be cared for and thoroughly spoiled as they settle in to their new home. 


Our Vietnam Director, Tuan, sent a quick update of the rescue – which shows again how much our team has to be prepared for the unexpected! 

“The rescue went very smoothly, although for a moment we thought it would take some time as the driver couldn’t get the truck to the loading ramp where our bears were waiting. I was thinking of Plan B when Tuan, Bear Team Leader, came to the rescue by taking over the driving, superbly navigating the truck through the narrow gap among the trees so that we could load our bears safely.” 

Safe and sound, I was delighted to see all four bears a few days ago during a quick trip to Vietnam, with my second cousin, Danny, who was on a 15-month trip of a lifetime around the world and had joined me in Hong Kong and Hanoi. Poor Baloo is indeed pretty much naked, but tucking into his grub with gusto and clearly a lot happier than when he first arrived.

The cubs are adorable – and Danny and I were grinning from ear to ear as we watched them hurtle around their roomy recovery cage in hot pursuit of each other as the games commenced after their tea. 

Please click HERE to read the full story and to see some photos of our four new residents.

That evening, we had our sanctuary Christmas party, which saw an evening celebrating another successful year, together with our Tam Dao Park Government partners and other park officials, who brought along their wives and children. Before a delicious vegan dinner began, the children were entertained by Santa Claus who had arrived perhaps slightly early to give them all a little gift for Christmas.

Santa was superb – but I must admit to being somewhat worried that he seemed to have lost weight and his hair was no longer white! I swear I heard someone mention “Danny” too, but before I could ask any questions, Santa had climbed back into his sleigh and was returning home to wrap more presents for children across the world.

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