Recently rescued bears Valerie and Tuan make a fine pair!

21 January 2020

The most recent bears to arrive at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, Tuan and Valerie have started their integration and it seems like they’re enjoying each other’s company and space to explore and play in. They are the 210th and 211th bears to be rescued to Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park.

Senior Bear Team Manager Sarah van Herpt said:

“It’s really great to see these two getting to know one another after so many years completely isolated from contact with their own kind. With the care and kindness from our team here, made possible by the support of people from all around the world, we hope we can earn their forgiveness and give them many years of healthy, happy life. It seems like Valerie and Tuan’s personalities are a great match, and you can see that they’re enjoying sharing a den and looking out for one another.”

Tuan was rescued on 15 October 2019 from an intensively managed pig farm in an emergency operation when the authorities discovered that his keeper had not microchipped him in accordance with Vietnamese regulations brought into force in 2005. When the Animals Asia team arrived to assess the situation it was clear Tuan’s situation was dire. He was a very large bear, probably owing to the fact that he was likely fed the same feed used to bulk up the farmer’s pigs, and yet he was held in a tiny cage which barely left him room to turn around in for over 15 years.

Our vet team examined Tuan bear onsite before bringing him back to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre to begin his essential period of quarantine. While he was in quarantine we received another call to rescue a bear who was being voluntarily handed over by the new director of a circus school in Hanoi, along with several macaques who were taken to the Government run Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Centre who we assist with advice, technical support and funding.

V210 Tuan (1) (1)

When the Animals Asia team collected Valerie from the Vietnam Circus And Vaudeville Secondary School in Hanoi on 6 November she was alone in a tiny cage. She had severe calluses on her forehead caused by rubbing herself against the bars of her cage. She was provided with no mental stimulation or environmental enrichment.

With a little bit of help from condensed milk on a pole and a lot of patience, Valerie was persuaded to move from her circus cage into our transport cage. Within two hours she was back at the Vietnam Rescue Centre and joined Tuan in quarantine.

Tuan and Valerie have now had their health checks and taken their first steps onto green grass since their years of imprisonment. Our specialist bear care teams have begun the task of integrating Tuan and Valerie into sanctuary life, and the two are already getting on famously. Valerie is always keen to play with Tuan and the two have often snuggled together in their dens overnight, plump Tuan having been compared to a cuddly duvet. Valerie shows signs of being very clever, foraging and engaging with enrichment activities like a pro despite still being a bit cautious of her new surroundings. Tuan is very sweet with Valerie and he’s often heard making a comforting clucking sound when Valerie is feeling anxious, and he’s obviously not lost his appetite.


We’ll keep you updated as Tuan and Valerie are slowly and carefully integrated into a den with longer established bears. It looks as though this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.