Hero vet ends bile farm bear’s 20 years of trauma

08 June 2017


For two decades Zebedee has lived with a facial deformity but specialist surgery has ended a lifelong nightmare.

Zebedee has lived with a disfigured face for almost his entire life. The moon bear was captured as a cub by poachers and struck across the face after attempting an escape.

He then spent 15 years locked in a tiny cage suffering regular bile extractions.

When rescued by Animals Asia in 2009, vets had to extract almost every one of Zebedee’s broken teeth and remove his gall bladder, which had been mutilated by extractions.

At Animals Asia’s sanctuary in Tam Dao, Vietnam – around an hour from Hanoi – Zebedee recovered from his awful past in grassy, outdoor enclosures surrounded by friends free to play, swim and forage.

Zebedee with his pals at VBRC

But sadly vets couldn’t correct the longstanding damage done to Zebedee’s face as the violent blow had left a hole – known as a fistula – from his mouth to his nasal passage.

This mutilation exposed his sinuses to food and particles in his mouth, leaving him more susceptible to infections such as bronchopneumonia.

V031 Zebedee Oronasal fistula repair 29.05.17  (11)

Until now, vets have had to manage the diseases but have been unable to correct the root problem.

But the visit of specialist veterinary surgeon, Dr Alane Cahalane changed Zebedee’s life forever.

V031 Zebedee Oronasal fistula repair 29.05.17  (15)

Animals Asia Senior Veterinarian Mandala Hunter-Ishikawa said:

“Dr Alane is the most incredible surgeon. In her adept hands, the hole that had plagued Zebedee for his entire life was fixed for good.

“He will have much less chance of developing related illnesses and can finally put his traumatic past behind him, and enjoy good health.”

Following the successful surgery, Zebedee will spend three weeks, recovering in a private den while being fed a specialised diet of soft food.

V031 Zebedee post op 1.06 (3)

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director Heidi Quine said:

“We can’t show enough gratitude for the care and support that Zebedee has received. He has been helped by so many people over the years, from supporters around the world, to a Vietnamese military hospital near the sanctuary and now by Alane’s exceptional care. It’s heartwarming to know that people all over the world care about him and are doing all they can to correct the awful abuse he suffered earlier in life.”

Since the operation, every major Vietnamese news outlet has reported the story of Zebedee’s corrective surgery, once again raising vital awareness of the cruelty of bear bile farming in the country.

Animals Asia has rescued nearly 600 bears, mostly from the bile industry, in both Vietnam and China. Today, close to 400 bears continue to enjoy pain free lives full of care and respect at the NGO’s sanctuaries in Tam Dao and Chengdu.

Dr Alane Cahalane (The 2nd from right - the 2nd line) wit Animals Asia's vet team