Miomojo Cub House: Five ways ethical shopping is making these furry friends the happiest bears in the world

02 November 2018

Five rescued sun bears are living new lives at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, and ethical shopping is a huge reason why they are so happy.

Sun bears Murphy, Goldie, Layla, Annemarie and Sassy all had the worst start in life. Murphy, Goldie, Layla and Sassy were all poached from the wild but lucky enough to be rescued by forest rangers when they were still young. Sadly Annemarie endured years in a tiny cage before being rescued.

Now all five live together in Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

Without survival skills they cannot be returned to the wild and will spend the rest of their lives here. The task for their carers is to make every day worth living.

Thankfully, this task is made much easier by the generous support of Miomojo, a fashion company which currently sponsors all five bears.

Whenever shoppers purchase items from the shop’s vast range of ethically produced bags and accessories, a percentage of the cost is automatically donated to Animals Asia.

And it is this funding, sourced from shoppers all over the world, which is enriching the lives of Sassy, Annemarie, Murphy, Goldie and Layla.

Here are five ways this vital support keeps the bears happy and healthy:

1/ Building a natural playground

The bears’ large outdoor enclosure is packed with fun structures such as swings, swimming pools and platforms – and the team are constantly dreaming up new items which the bears can explore, play with and ultimately have great fun destroying.

Climbing frames and raised walkways are a lot of fun, but they also play an important role in a bear’s recovery.

After years of being kept in confined spaces, bears can suffer from arthritis and weak limbs. Bears who don’t exercise enough can also gain too much weight on a normal diet, which leads to all sorts of problems later in life.

So we make sure there are plenty of climbing structures available for the bears to rebuild muscle and stay active.

2/ Puzzle feeders

While the bears are kept busy foraging for their food just as they would in the wild, they also receive a huge variety of puzzle feeders which stimulate their cognitive thinking.

Puzzle feeders provide hours of entertainment as the bears try to work out how to manipulate these structures to get at the snacks dangling from their sides or hidden within.

Hiding food in these specially designed feeders encourages foraging and cognitive skills that are natural to bears in the wild.

3/ Natural objects

The forest is a natural playground for bears and we try to mimic this in sanctuary by constantly providing access to the natural items which would interest bears in the wild.

Piles of logs can provide hours of fun, as can sandy areas, mounds of leaves and even rocks. As well as providing novelty, these items all give the bears opportunities to express the natural behaviours which keep them happy.

4/ Constant surprises

Just about anything made from natural fibres can be turned into toys for the bears, from hessian sacks to cardboard boxes.

At Christmas the bears receive “presents” full of tasty treats which they take great pleasure in destroying, while this Halloween papier-mâché faces appeared in the enclosure. These completely novel items attract the attention of all the bears as they try to figure out what they are, and most importantly – can they be eaten!

Toys like this are brilliant for developing the bears’ spirit of exploration, keeping them occupied and making them happy.

5/ Friends for life

Goldie and Murphy share the log with each other

In the Miomojo Cub House, Sassy, Murphy, Annemarie, Layla and Goldie have each other. They can play, wrestle and sleep together.

In our vast experience of caring for rescued bears, we’ve found that relationships with other bears can be a huge part of rehabilitation and enormously helpful for overcoming past traumas.

It may come as a surprise that we encourage bears to form friendships, given how solitary they typically are in the wild. But social enrichment is important for rescued bears.

Older residents can show newcomers the ropes. It’s also good for captive bears to see their peers foraging, climbing and generally reinforcing natural behaviours.

The Miomojo Cub House is part-funded by Miomojo – a responsible fashion company from Italy making gorgeous fashion accessories that don’t harm animals or the environment. Their new Ethicool collection is available now.