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Bear in the Picture: Coco and Yogi – together through thick and thin

16 May 2017

Rescued moon bears were separated by bile farm bars for 15 years – now they’re hugging, wrestling and snuggling their way through new lives.

Coco and Yogi spent 15 years on a Vietnamese bear bile farm separated by rusty iron bars that stopped them reaching out to comfort each other.

They were held there for half a lifetime, suffering regular painful bile extractions for use in traditional medicine.

This cruelty left their bodies ruined. Yogi’s teeth were fractured and infected and much of the hair on his face had been scrubbed away by repeatedly rubbing himself against the iron bars. He had nothing else to do for 15 years.

Coco was missing a paw, while one of Yogi’s was mutilated – most likely from being trapped in the wild.

But two years on from their rescue from Vietnam’s Ben Tre province, these two gentle souls now live an utterly different life.


At Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, they truly met for the first time and were finally able to hug, wrestle and snuggle up together after 15 years seeing, but never touching each other.

The bile farm cages, measuring just a few metres square, are far behind them and now they forage, swim and play together in a large, grassy outdoor enclosure.

Yogi smiling

It’s a space they share with fellow bear bile farm survivors Sarah, Rose and Bi Do. All five have become firm friends – but Coco and Yogi’s closest bond always has, and always will be with each other.


Animals Asia Bear Manager Kelly Donithan said:

“Coco and Yogi have been through a lot together and become just the sweetest pair. They’ve clearly benefited from having each other to comfort and support through their rehabilitation here at the sanctuary. From meeting new friends, venturing to the great outdoors, and even helping other bears find their peace; these two bears have not missed an opportunity to use their special bond to their advantage.

“Looking back at where they were cruelly held for so long, makes me feel so privileged to be a part of their story. Their lives today are unrecognisable from what went before and that is worth celebrating.”

Yogi drying offV122 Coco 5Sep2016 (18)Coco 1