Inspirational rescued bile farm bear Oliver, recovering from eye operation

05 February 2013

Oliver, one of Animals Asia’s most loved and celebrated bears, is recovering at the China Bear Rescue Centre after a successful operation to remove his right eye. He had developed a luxated lens, where the lens moves causing inflammation as well as significant pain and discomfort.

Oliver was one of 10 bears rescued from the last bear bile farm in Shandong province, China in April 2010. Oliver had spent four gruelling days on the road in a 2,400-kilometre trip, and was forced to undergo emergency surgery on the back of one of the rescue trucks. Animals Asia’s vet team performed an emergency cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) in order to save his life. 

Oliver, along with seven other bears trapped on the farm in Weihai, Shandong, had been wearing barbaric metal jackets and bile-milking catheters, long banned by the Chinese authorities. Oliver had spent 10 years on the Shandong farm and another 20 years trapped on other farms. 

Having spent 30 years on bile farms - the normal length of a bear’s life, he survived his ordeal and has flourished at the sanctuary. He became an international inspiration, with his dramatic rescue featuring prominently in the movie “Cages of Shame”, which was named as one of the “7 can't-miss films of 2012”, and was the winner of the Humane Society of the United States ACE award. 

Due to Oliver’s age and a diagnosed heart condition, vets had originally hoped to manage the eye condition through anti-inflammatories and pain medication. When his condition didn’t improve, the decision to operate was taken, in consultation with experts from the UK’s Animal Health Trust. 

The operation to remove the right eye was a complete success and Oliver is already back in an open enclosure and adapting well; his quality of life improved.

Jill Robinson MBE, Animals Asia founder and CEO said:

“Oliver survived 30 years on bile farms and emergency surgery on the roadside. The fact that he is with us at all is a miracle and it’s a miracle that continues to inspire. He was farmed for a lifetime and this is his ‘borrowed time’ - at the sanctuary where he’s being given all the care and attention such a gentle, inspiring bear deserves”