BREAKING NEWS: Our beloved Paddington loses her fight for life and becomes the latest victim of bear bile farming

26 October 2022

This is the saddest news we’ve had to share in a long time.

Paddington, the female moon bear who, just one month ago, Animals Asia rushed to rescue from a cruel life on a bile farm, suddenly died last week as our vet and bear care team fought heroically to save her life.

We rescued Paddington from a tiny cage on a bile farm, where she’d spent 17 years - probably her entire life - suffering the indignity, pain and trauma of repeated bile extraction.

The vet team quickly discovered Paddington was suffering from a range of serious health conditions as a result of her confinement and experiences on the farm, and put Paddington under intensive monitoring in the quarantine area, where every rescued bear spends their first 30 days.

The call that changed everything

After three weeks, Paddington’s carers found her trying in vain to get up and seeming unaware of her surroundings. The vet team rushed her to our on-site bear hospital for a thorough examination. There were clearly issues but as they were likely in her brain, all the team could do was to administer symptomatic relief and monitor her closely.

Just two hours later, Paddington stopped breathing. The team performed CPR on her for 10 minutes, but despite everyone’s heroic efforts, she tragically slipped away. 

Animals Asia’s Bear and Vet Team Department Director Heidi Quine said, “The trauma and the suffering of bears on farms are unimaginable. We have to get the bears out of the farms as quickly as we can. I will never forget the feeling of performing CPR on Paddington, those chest compressions… The team and I fought for her life just as hard as she did. I don’t ever want to do that again."

The post-mortem and preliminary lab report showed that Paddington suffered from swelling of the brain.

A heartbreaking farewell to our Paddington Bear

Paddington was buried the next day at our sanctuary graveyard, where bears we’ve rescued, loved and lost rest in a beautiful, peaceful garden. Our sanctuary team held a funeral service where Paddington’s carers, shocked and devastated, read out poems and letters they’d written for her through their tears.

Here are just a few of the words written to and about our precious girl who touched and inspired so many people across the world…

“Even though Paddington’s time with us wasn’t long, it was the happiest and most care-free time that she ever had. Her story will once again emphasise how cruel bear bile farming can be and gives us the strength to keep moving forward until we end this cruel practice, one day not far.

For now, Rest In Peace, Precious Paddington. Hope our yummy marmalade sandwiches will accompany you to the place where only love and freedom can reach.” Lý Mai Hân, Junior Veterinary Surgeon

"Saving the life of an animal won't change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal. I'm so glad we got to change your world beautiful Paddington, even just for a moment. You instantly became part of our family the second we heard about you and your final chapter was filled with nothing but love and kindness. You were such a special bear, your life mattered so much, and you'll be with us forever. Rest easy now sweet girl.” Amy Saunders, Bear Team Manager

“Paddington suffered so many years of cruelty, it was obvious as soon as we saw her - in the rub marks on her head, the way she voraciously ate anything given to her and her diminutive size.

But, the last three weeks of her life were the best she had had since she was cruelly taken from the wild. The amount of love that poured her way from all over the world was inspirational, but it was the bear care team's quiet love and devotion, and their despair at her passing that broke me.

Paddington was loved and respected, fed all the food and treats she could handle and given top-quality medical care. She did not suffer as she would have had we not rescued her. I hope her story, and the sharing of her passing, continues to touch people world wide and encourages support. That will be her legacy.

Rest in peace sweet bear, we will miss you terribly.” Sarah van Herpt, Senior Bear Team Manager

Paddington’s legacy… and her lesson to us

Even though Paddington’s time at our sanctuary was short, she experienced love, care, and compassion in abundance. Her story inspired animal lovers across the world to support our mission to end the cruel practice that stole her freedom and ultimately her life. 

“Paddington led a life without even the dignity of a name. But with the help of supporters around the world, we were able to save her, name her, care for her, and show her love for the first time in her life,” Animals Asia’s founder and CEO Jill Robinson said.

“Her loss is tragic to us all, but it also reminds us that we must make the world aware of the cruelty and devastation that bear bile farming causes. As the industry in Vietnam comes to an end, we are racing to save every suffering bear before it’s too late.”

“While we are building the last sanctuary in the country for all remaining bears, we must urgently close all farms now, too, to ensure no bear will ever go through this again.”

The current situation in Vietnam

Animals Asia's award-winning bear rescue centre in Tam Dao, Vietnam, is fast approaching its full capacity. We broke ground in May on a new 12-hectare sanctuary in the beautiful, mountainous Bach Ma National Park which will eventually be home to the last remaining bears currently on bile farms in the country. 

Once the last bear is saved, this trade will be history in Vietnam, and Animals Asia will have made history by achieving one of our founding goals - to end bear bile farming in Vietnam.

Read more:

Paddington’s rescue