Bear who won hearts during live rescue set for eye operation

26 November 2015

Kay as we found her

A balding moon bear called Kay, who had been imprisoned for years in a tiny cage in Vietnam – while suffering painful bile extractions – is set for an eye operation.

Animal lovers took Kay to their hearts after her rescue from a bear bile farm was shared live across the world via social media. It’s unknown for how long Kay had been caged – but it estimated to have been up to a decade. Due to stress and illness Kay had lost much of what once would have been a thick black coat, as well as the distinctive yellow crescent common to moon bears.

Thousands following her rescue live responded to photos on social media and cheered on the rescuers.

In addition, a photo taken of Kay calmly waiting to be rescued and perhaps giving the other bears more confidence during what would normally be a stressful time, further moved animal lovers. Kay bravely stepped into her transport cage without concern, ahead of her transfer to Animals Asia’s nearby sanctuary.

One last picture of Kay (on the right of this image) from her rescue earlier this week before the cages were...

Posted by Animals Asia on Friday, September 25, 2015


Since then vets have discovered entropion in both of Kay’s eyes – a condition where her eyelids roll in and the eyelashes constantly touch the cornea, causing chronic irritation.

Senior Vet Mandala Hunter-Ishikawa explained:

“If you’ve ever had an eyelash caught in your eye, then you know just how irritating it is. This is all of her eyelashes touching her eyes – and it has most likely been that way for years. The pain and irritation is constant, and surgery is the only way to correct it.”

Her eye surgery is to be scheduled as soon as possible – a veterinary eye specialist has discussed the procedure with Animals Asia’s vets and Kay will have the surgery in the near future.

In the meantime, Kay’s fur is growing back – her bald spots were most likely caused by a depressed immune system, which wasn’t helped by an inappropriate diet. Now, since she swapped bile farm rice gruel for fresh fruit and vegetables as well as better overall care, she is starting to grow her coat back.

Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson added: 

“Kay’s beauty is more than skin deep, and her influence on the five bears in the cages around her was incredible to watch. We look forward to seeing her out there in the sunshine with them. She is a beautiful natured bear.”

Kay is currently being cared for at Animals Asia’s sanctuary in Tam Dao, Vietnam. Once she is fit and strong and recovered from her upcoming operation, she will be moved to a larger den before being integrated with other bears. Then she will take her first steps into the outside enclosure that will become her future home.

Kay’s rescue was one of 33 undertaken by Animals Asia to end bear bile farming in Quang Ninh province Vietnam, following a high profile campaign. The province includes tourist hotspot Halong Bay, and was once the most notorious region in Vietnam for bear bile farming.

There remain over 1,200 bears caged on bile farms in Vietnam, and more than 10,000 more in China. Their bile is used in traditional medicine. Animals Asia has rescued over 570 bears from bile farms.

Kay after being transferred to transport cage, and given honey and fruit