Christmas in Vietnam

I thought it would be fun to turn this part of the blog over to Annemarie, who is our Bear and Vet Team Director in Vietnam.

"As always around this time of the year, there is a buzz of excitement to get everything organised for the bears to get their Christmas presents. From buying the balloons and wrapping paper to making the coloured papier mache balls, it gets all the creative staff together who end up with a huge pile of presents and stained hands to show off their hard work.


Bear Manager Sarah has been overseeing the Christmas preparations for the bears for four years now. And with the help of education staff, bear team workers, translators and bear managers, they did a brilliant job once again surprising the bears.

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The first to receive gifts were the bears in Cub House. Sun bear Layla discovered the decorated Christmas tree and was soon destroying the parcels which the team had stuffed with tasty treats. She climbed the tree causing parcels to drop into her pool, from where she happily retrieved them. Sassy came out a bit later and missed out on most of the fun but did manage to get her mince pie.


For sun bear cub Murphy it was his first Christmas and he made the most of everything he got. The parcel was fun to shake around for a while but what seemed to delight him even more was the pine tree branch; doing lots of roly poly's to show off his new best prize.

The team quickly moved on to the bears in House 8 who dashed out when the bell rang. Cintron was the first to discover the Christmas tree and was happily opening parcels and pulling off the balls, eating the treats hidden inside.


A few others eventually made their way over until Tieu Long decided to break the Christmas tree in half. Pleased with his work he left the scene, leaving bears like Baruffa in wonder what they missed out on.


Jill, like every other year, brought over suitcases filled with delicious mince pies (this year with love from lovely Lesley Nicol) and even with 148 bears on site she made sure every single bear got their treat for Christmas. For 41 bears this was the first time ever to experience this delicious sweet snack and Quang Yen seemed pleased to be the first to receive one. Ricky and Thomas loved theirs...



...and even blind sun bear Greir managed to sniff out hers placed on the log wall.


So much fun for the bears, but the staff love it too - everyone ready with their cameras to capture that special moment and lots of smiles on faces.

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In House 3 everybody knows little Kollo as he is a highly entertaining character and he didn't let us down this time around. He seemed wary of the tree and whilst bears like Polly and Fynn were happily removing presents, Kollo approached with caution and preferred to sit on the side, eating his carrot and keeping a close eye on it all. Until an empty box presented itself and Kollo decided it wouldn't harm him and he placed it over his head. After a failed attempt he managed to slide it on like a jumper which made us all smile and laugh with delight. No one knew that this wasn't the last of his stunts… Little Kollo tumbled over, having us all rolling on the floor helpless with laughter!

A great Christmas celebration, showing the dedication of our teams to surprise our bears once again. Thank you all for your incredibly hard work to ensure that all our bears get to put their terrible past behind them and enjoy this festive season. And with our gratitude to all our supporters who keep standing by us, cheering us on every step of the way. Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2016!

With bear hugs from us all in Vietnam."

Annemarie x


And a brief note from Sarah who celebrated her last Christmas with us (below, with bear team member, Trang):sarah

"I personally love Christmas, I think it's a wonderful time of year when people (and bears) come together and everyone is in good spirits regardless of the cold weather! As it is my last Christmas with the bears I hoped it would be as magical as the previous three, and it was. All the preparations that everyone worked hard on pay off when you see the bears go out and take great joy in ripping open their presents and 'deconstructing' the tree! The highlight this year for me had to be Kollo and his failed attempts to pack himself into one of the Christmas boxes!