First pictures of rescued bear cubs Sugar and Spice in new sanctuary hom

03 May 2019


Just one week after being rescued from brutal exploitation in a Vietnam circus, moon bears Sugar and Spice are exploring their new home.

When Animals Asia investigators discovered two moon bear cubs being forced to perform on stage at a Vietnamese circus, they knew they had to act fast.

The two cubs were muzzled, forced to walk on their hind legs, carry buckets on a pole balanced between their shoulders, ride motorbikes and slide down poles.

When one of the cubs fell off a motorbike on stage, the ringmasters simply hauled her to her feet by the back of her neck and put her back on the bike. There was absolutely no regard given to her welfare. 

Fortunately, the authorities were swift to act and having confirmed that the cubs had been obtained illegally, ordered an immediate rescue.

Now both cubs are safe at Animals Asia’s award-winning Vietnam sanctuary where they will require life-long care.

V204 Spice eating apple on ladder

Animals Asia Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director Heidi Quine explains how the pair are settling in: 

“In their short lives so far, Sugar and Spice have been subject to a world that would have been both scary and confusing, without choice or the ability to just be a bear. But that has now all changed.

“At the moment they are both under a 45-day quarantine period to protect the health of the nearly 200 other bears on site, but during that time they are together in an indoor den area in our purpose-built Cub House.

“These dens are full of play items, ladders, platforms, baskets and natural materials to keep the pair active and stimulated – from puzzle feeders to hessian sacks for nesting. 

“Every morning we pop in to check on them and more often than not we find they’ve practically destroyed everything in the dens – cubs will be cubs!

“Of course both bears are still scared, particularly Sugar, and during the day they will often stay on a raised platform which is proving to be a bit of a safety blanket.

“Sugar is a very timid and fearful bear and spends much of her time hiding behind her trusty companion, Spice. With time she will have the opportunity for her confidence to grow and to feel like she can stand alone without protection.

“From her brief health-check as we transferred her from the circus den to her transport cage, we found her to be in generally good physical condition. However she does have a few missing front teeth and some wear on her back teeth which is very abnormal for such a young bear.

“When she is ready, we will perform a more in-depth health-check but for now her mental wellbeing is our main priority.

“Spice on the other hand is bigger than Sugar and also more confident. She will come down during the day to go into both dens and forage for apples and other food. Spice loves bathing and her little body can fit into the water bowl.”

“These poor girls are going to need a lot of care and nurturing to recover from the trauma they have suffered, but we know from experience that rescued cubs can go on to live happy fulfilling lives in our sanctuary.”

V203 Sugar (ground) and V204 Spice exploring their cub house den

Our work doesn’t end when a bear is rescued. That’s when it really begins… 

As cubs, Sugar and Spice can expect to live up to 30 years. And with no survival skills or safe forests for release, they will likely spend the rest of their lives in our care.

That’s a huge commitment we can only make with your help.

A gift from you today could help support the long-term care and rehabilitation of bears like Sugar and Spice. Could you help give brave little bears the happy new lives they deserve?