Carers mourn as moon bear Ginny passes away after 18 years of sanctuary

23 January 2019

Ginny smiling

Moon bear Ginny was the fifth bear ever rescued by Animals Asia and enjoyed 18 years of sanctuary after being saved from bile farm horror.

For moon bear Ginny, life was unending torture. She was trapped on a bear bile farm in China, where a metal catheter had been permanently inserted into her abdomen.

She would have been kept in a “crush cage”, which contains a movable metal side used to pin her daily against the side of the cage so that her bile could be extracted for traditional medicine.

Ginny endured this living torture for years. It would have been her entire life – possibly up to 30 years.

But then everything changed. 

Ginny was the fifth bear Animals Asia ever rescued and one of the very first residents at the China Bear Rescue Centre – still the only rescue centre for bears in the country.

S005 Ginny

Here, Ginny overcame the psychological horrors of her past life and the physical mutilation of her body.

She had an open expanse of green grass to explore, trees to climb, nests to build, friends to play with and a never-ending variety of enrichment items to keep her busy.

She forged strong friendships with fellow bears Jaspar, Delaney and Banjo, which no doubt helped them all try to forget what was done to them in the past.

Jasper on Ginny

Ginny even garnered celebrity admirers having been named in honour of actress, wildlife campaigner and founder of the Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna OBE.

Despite all she endured on the farm, Ginny went on to enjoy 18 years of peace and happiness in sanctuary before passing away in December 2018.

Virginia McKenna OBE said:

“It was very touching when Jill Robinson told me, many years ago, that one of the rescued moon bears at Animals Asia’s sanctuary in China was being named after me. I was really thrilled and, of course, it was wonderful when I saw her at the sanctuary. From years in a fearful barred cage to 18 years of kindness, compassion and the company and friendship of other bears was, I am sure, leaving hell for heaven. Now this beautiful old lady has passed away peacefully.  She will always be remembered, and with love.”

Ginny lost control of her hind legs in November, with the sanctuary vet team trying for six weeks to find a cure. During this time, she made herself straw nests and blankets and enjoyed all of the medications with her typical Ginny smile. The team tried their own versions of physiotherapy by encouraging Ginny to move across cages or stand up, which had fluctuating success.  But sadly, the spinal lesion at the root of the problem did not react to any medication leaving Ginny’s carers with no option left but to let her leave this world with dignity.

Resident Veterinarian Rachel Sanki said:

“The decision to say goodbye was one of the most difficult decisions to make but we wanted to give Ginny the respect and legacy she deserved.”

Ginny had many moon bear playmates, but her best friend was undoubtedly Delaney who she was close to for more than a decade.

Ginny and Delaney

China Bear and Vet Team Director Ryan Marcel Sucaet said: 

“The team really exhausted every option in terms of trying to give Ginny the life she once had. On her final day with us, the entire team spoiled her. I gave her a coconut cut in half with a wrapped Christmas present and she was in heaven. Across the corridor from her transport cage was her old friend Delaney. He would watch her through the den bars and it would make your heart sink.

“To say goodbye to Ginny was an emotional one for our team. While we all held her paws and said our final farewells the majority of the bear team and other departments came down to shower her with love and wish her a peaceful passing. We buried her under two beautiful trees in the sanctuary’s Garden of Rest, where one day she’ll be reunited with Delaney.”