Meet the Vietnam cub pack

15 March 2014

With juveniles Dung and James becoming the latest addition to the Animals Asia family last week, a community of younger bears is beginning to form at our Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre (VBRC).

Dung and James follow fellow youngsters Misty, Rain, Joey and Ricky to the sanctuary and the group of bears are already being called “The Moon Bear Cub Pack”.

Meet the cub pack:

ricky and joey playing when they were younger

Joey and Ricky 

Ricky and Joey arrived at the VBRC back in September 2012. Discovered by Vietnamese authorities in the process of being trafficked in the northern province of Lai Chau, Chinese bear bile farms were the most likely destination for the four month old cubs before help arrived. From there it was a 12 hour journey on flood hit and mountainous roads back to Animals Asia’s sanctuary in Tam Dao. Two years later and those playful little kids are now mischievous teenagers who are ready to get social with some more moon bear company.

misty and rain playing in the bath

Misty and Rain 

Misty and Rain have had people swooning over them ever since they arrived at the sanctuary. With names inspired by the testing weather conditions during their journey from Lai Chau province to the VBRC in Tam Dao, these two stole the public’s hearts when a video of them discovering a tub of bubble bath was released by Animals Asia staff. When they arrived at the sanctuary, Misty and Rain weighed only 3kg each. Fast forward 10 months and the pair have thoroughly outgrown their mini enclosure, weighing in at 50kg apiece.

Bear team leader Hoang Van Chien knows the twin sisters best and loves watching them play:

“Misty and Rain love sitting in their swing eating food. When we put popcorn in the swing for enrichment they climb in and eat whilst swinging. They also often try to touch hands with Ricky and Joey in the enclosure next door. In turn Ricky and Joey share their toys with Misty and Rain by bringing them close to the fence so the cubs can reach them.”

dung and james in xuan lien nature reserve before being rescued by animals asia

Dung and James

Welcome to the latest addition to the Animals Asia family. Having been rescued from Thanh Hoa province just last week, the siblings woke up on Monday to a whole new life in our sanctuary. While both bears are currently in quarantine and the health of James – who has previously suffered sickness and requires an operation to remove cataracts – is being constantly monitored, our staff remain hopeful that the latest additions will one day be integrated into the wider population.

Annemarie Weegenaar, Bear and Vet team Director, has pointed to the impact social contact has on bears’ mental health:

“Although most bears live alone in the wild, we have found in our sanctuary that they are actually really social and enjoy the company of others. Friendship seems to help them get over the trauma they endured being ripped from their family and trafficked.”

However this recent change in sanctuary demographic reflects the wider situation in Vietnam’s battle to end bear bile farming as Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam Director for Animals Asia explains:

“With bear bile farming being illegal in Vietnam and with the market diminishing, increasingly cubs are being trafficked to China. Without our sanctuary Forestry would think twice about making arrests as there would be few options available in terms of ensuring the cubs would be safe.  With Ricky and Joey, then Misty and Rain and now Dung and James the ‘cub pack’ are keeping the sanctuary young and we look forward to them growing bigger and stronger.”