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#MoonBearMountainRescue: Traumatised bear rescued last week still doesn’t realise she’s safe now

05 October 2018

A week on from her dramatic rescue from a bear bile farm, moon bear Sky remains scared and untrusting of the people trying to help her.

After 14 years caged alone on a Vietnamese bear bile farm, help came for moon bear Sky.

Animals Asia’s rescue team cut open her cage, carried her to safety and brought her back to their sanctuary to begin her new life. 

Unfortunately, Sky doesn’t realise she’s safe yet. She doesn’t know that the people around her – bringing her food and making her well – are here to help.

She has only ever known cruelty and isn’t yet ready to trust that her suffering is over.

Animals Asia Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director, Heidi Quine, who was part of the rescue team and has been overseeing Sky’s care, said:

“Sadly, Sky isn’t yet ready to believe she’s safe. She is scared and untrusting to the point where she hasn’t been eating well.

“As carers, we have to be patient and talk gently to her. We use a long-handled spoon to give her sweet treats which allows us to keep our distance but still shows her we are her friends and mean her no harm.

“Every small step is a hard-won battle, but we’re confident she’ll learn to trust. It will take time but we’re not going to give up on her.”

In her week at the sanctuary, Sky has also received a health check which revealed she weighs an astonishing 253kg, making her the heaviest bear the team has ever rescued.

She is also suffering from curvature of the spine and has an enormous area of hard, thickened skin on her back and rump from 14 years of sitting motionless at the bottom of a cage.

Heidi said:

“Sky’s weight and skin problems show just how totally she has been neglected on the farm. Clearly her welfare was of no concern and her life was completely empty. 

“But as we bring her enrichment, we are starting to see small positive signs – a banana leaf pulled down from the roof, or an empty puzzle feeder. We are here to help her every step of the way, taking things at her pace.”

Sky was poached from the wild as a cub in 2004 and caged on the farm in Vietnam’s Lao Cai city where her bile was routinely extracted for use in traditional medicine.

Bear bile farming has been specifically illegal in Vietnam since 2005, when every bear in captivity was microchipped. However, without facilities to hold the over 4,000 bears on farms at the time, owners were permitted to keep their bears and the practice was able to persist.

However, in 2017, the government signed a landmark agreement with Animals Asia that will see every farm closed and the remaining 800 bears sent to sanctuaries by 2022 as the country works to eradicate the cruel trade.

In August, Animals Asia successfully rescued five moon bears from a farm in the far southern province of Tien Giang.

Having exposed and opposed bear bile farming since 1998, Animals Asia has rescued over 600 bears in Vietnam and China. Today, nearly 200 bears continue to live cruelty-free lives at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, while a further 192 are cared for by the charity in China. 

Animals Asia’s work to rescue bears from the extreme cruelty of the bear bile industry and give them cruelty-free lives at our sanctuaries is entirely funded by the public.  Please help Sky overcome cruelty, and send a gift today.