Bear Rescue updates- we have been busy!

25 August 2023

It has been a busy few weeks at Animals Asia with the rescue of three bears in Vietnam. During late July and early August, Bonnie and Clyde and Kindness have all been rescued from bile farms and brought to our centre in Tam Dao. It has been a long but worthwhile journey for their freedom. 

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde stole our hearts as soon as we met them. These two moon bears were kept in cages for over 20 years, but unlike their infamous namesakes, they have done nothing wrong. Instead, they were robbed of their freedom by the cruel bile trade. 

The bears and our rescue team were on the road for four days in the heat of the Vietnamese summer where they stopped regularly to check the bears and hose them down to keep them cool, before they made it to the sanctuary. Bonnie was especially nervous when we rescued her as she had not seen the sun or felt the wind on her fur for years.

Already their personalities are beginning to show. Clyde is playful, often playing with his drinking water and inhaling his fruit lunch most days! He also loves to shower! Bonnie on the other hand, is a gentle soul who needs a bit more reassurance but is growing in confidence every day. The team must talk to Bonnie in calm reassuring tones to let her know she is safe- and she is. Both her and Clyde will continue to be safe in our sanctuaries.  We hope to see more and more progress from these beautiful bears as time goes on. 


Even before Bonnie and Clyde had reached our sanctuary, we received a call from local NGO, ENV, about another bear in Ha Nam province that needed urgent rescue. According to the local Forestry Protection Department, the farmer had specifically requested that the bear be taken to our sanctuary in Tam Dao, highlighting the strength of the reputation Animals Asia has forged in the community.  

This bear was the last bear in the last cage on the last bile farm in Ha Nam province, and our founder, Jill Robinson, joined the rescue, almost 25 years to the day since she founded Animals Asia. It was almost as if it was destined to happen. To mark this significant occasion - rendering another province in Vietnam bile farm free on the eve of our silver anniversary - we named this bear ‘Kindness’. Because this was the name and the action that has underpinned Animals Asia and our work since we began. Every bear deserves a life free from pain and suffering. Every living thing deserves kindness. And we were determined to give this bear every kindness to help her recover from the trauma she had suffered, and feel the grass under paw and the cool breeze in her fur for the first time in decades. 

Watching the rain bucketing down on the way, Jill was concerned it might make the rescue a little more difficult. But she knew she had the best bear rescue team in the world with her, and nothing could stop them ensuring the safety of this last bile bear in Ha Nam. 

During the initial health check on the farm, Jill clipped Kindness’ claws that had grown so much in captivity they were curling back into her paws, while the rest of the vet team gave Kindness a once over to make sure she was fit enough to travel, and also to get an indication of what veterinary care she may need once she was safely back at the sanctuary.

On the way back from the farm, the team had to contend with the peak hour traffic through Hanoi, arriving late in the night in the pouring rain. But they were greeted warmly by the quarantine team back at the sanctuary, who had prepared a place for Kindness near the two other new arrivals, Bonnie and Clyde. 

She will spend the mandatory 30 days in quarantine, where we will be able to monitor and get to know Kindness a little better before moving her into a den and then into an outdoor enclosure. And we are already getting to know her and her lovely personality. According to Jill, she is hugely spoiled with fruits and toys and especially likes pumpkin! She will continue to receive all the love and care that our amazing team can give her to ensure she goes on to feel safe and secure.

And this is how, together with the government, Animals Asia is ending bear bile farming in Vietnam - bear by bear, cage by cage, farm by farm, province by province - until there is no bear left behind.

We have made such progress in 25 years but the work is far from finished. If you would like to donate to our cause, please click the ‘donate’ button - anything you can spare can help improve the lives of these bears and other animals across Asia. You can also subscribe to our social media channels for regular updates on Bonnie and Clyde, Kindness and many of the other unique and special bears that have found their new home with us at Animals Asia.