• United States
  • International
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Hong Kong (EN)
  • Hong Kong (繁)
  • animalasia.lang_fr
  • China
  • Vietnam

Hero vets free rescued bear with no tongue from “unimaginable” pain

06 January 2017

Moon bear Snow endured years of excruciating pain on a bile farm, but just weeks after his rescue vets have revealed a totally new bear.

Poor Snow has suffered greatly. When rescuers discovered him on a farm in Vietnam’s Dak Lak province, he was in agony from rotting wounds on his feet, broken teeth and was having difficulty eating as he has no tongue.


A photo posted by Animals Asia (@animalsasia) on Dec 4, 2016 at 8:37pm PST


Animals Asia Senior Veterinarian Mandala Hunter-Ishikawa said:

“When we found Snow, the claws on his feet had grown into his foot pads – something that must have taken over a year or even two years to happen. The amount of pain he must have endured during the time as the claws slowly pierced the skin, into the flesh and down to the bone is unimaginable.

“We removed the claws, cleaned the pus-filled wounds and started Snow on a course of pain medication and antibiotics. Finally he can now stand without experiencing excruciating pain.

“At the sanctuary, Snow had three fractured and infected canine teeth extracted while an eye exam revealed damage to the right eye that likely makes it hard for him to see. This is not reversible but thankfully is not painful, and the left eye appears normal.”

Following dental surgery bears are usually fed blended food while they recover, but with Snow having no tongue with which to lick up the food, he will temporarily be fed a diet of soft, cooked food.

While it is impossible to discover exactly how Snow lost his tongue, staff believe it was trauma rather than a birth defect and possibly due to a fight on a bile farm due to poor animal management.

But now that Snow’s pain is over, sanctuary staff are reporting that a totally new bear is emerging as the agony fades.

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

“On his journey home, Snow was very stressed and untrusting and was still scared and nervous on arrival. But brave Snow has changed so much in the past three weeks. As his pain has been controlled, he has started trusting us more. He already looks like a different bear. He carries himself differently and there is a glimmer in his eyes that was not evident before. It’s just a matter of time before he understands that we are here for him, in kindness and respect, for the rest of his life. 

Snow was rescued alongside five other bears as part of Animals Asia’s Home For the Holidays rescue. All six bears have now received health checks at the sanctuary.


Poor Poe was very stressed during his rescue and is still incredibly skinny. Vets and bear managers were shocked to find he weighs just 74kg – approximately half of what could be expected from a bear of his size and age.

Thankfully Poe has no major health problems and is expected to be a strong, healthy male once taking regular exercise and enjoying a good diet.


Winter was the calmest of the bears during rescue and is already showing a very sweet personality.

She is missing a front limb from the shoulder and a health check has revealed her stump is extremely scarred. Fortunately, there is no evidence of infection or inflammation, so it is not causing her any discomfort. However, she has some mild changes in her remaining forelimb, likely from increased weight-bearing which will be monitored closely.

Winter’s gall bladder showed signs of abnormalities due to bile extraction but should not require surgery to be removed. Tests have revealed some signs of high blood pressure – a common ailment among bile farm bears – that can be managed with medication.

During her health check, Winter had seven badly fractured teeth removed and will be given soft food while she heals. For now, this lovely little bear will continue to enjoy the simple pleasures of good food, sweet treats and plenty of browse.


Affectionately known as “Cranky Cranberry”, this poor bear was the least trusting of a very scared and nervous group. That said, Cranberry has settled well into quarantine. During her health check, three fractured teeth were extracted and examination revealed she also suffers from arthritis.

Now that her painful teeth have been removed, she will be on a special soft diet and medication and hopefully she will have a chance to grow in confidence and learn to trust those who care for her.


Ivy’s health check revealed she was suffering from a rotting tooth so severe it had infected her jawbone. She is missing toes on her left front leg, most likely from a hunter’s snare, suggesting she was poached from the wild. Thankfully, the injury does not cause any pain. Overall, Ivy is a beautiful bear with a soft, glossy coat and a big heart who has charmed her carers.

Bi Xanh

Bi Xanh’s teeth have been severely weakened from vainly biting the bars of his cage over many years. The team felt dental surgery was not required for the moment though may be carried out in the future.

Although he is still slim, Bi Xanh has already put on weight in just the few weeks since he was rescued and began eating a healthy diet.

He has signs of hypertension in his eyes, so he will begin on anti-hypertensive medication. But generally the vet team are pleased with his progress and believe he will grow in size and personality as he learns how to be a bear again.