Rescued after years alone – sun bear is learning how to make friends

25 January 2017

Sun bear Kaffe spent a decade caged and alone as an exotic pet – now he’s finally meeting other bears but making friends isn’t easy when it’s your first time. 

Since being rescued in September 2016 by Animals Asia, Kaffe has completed quarantine and adapted wonderfully to life in a den – the largest space he has ever known.

To prepare him for integration with his soon-to-be sun bear friends, he was given a taste of the great outdoors, which he met with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Finally, he was ready to make friends with the bears who will share the space with him.

Kaffe and lamma in den

But despite Kaffe’s best intentions, he just doesn’t know how to do it. Before his rescue he had likely never even seen other bears, and certainly never had the opportunity to play with them.

Kaffe with Lamma trying to play

Animals Asia Bear Manager Kelly Donithan said:

“Kaffe has shown himself to be a very sociable bear and mentally ready to meet the other bears. But when we introduced him to fellow sun bear David, he was clearly unsure how to play. He seemed awkward and nervous – but despite this, he was willing and the pair eventually played together happily.”

The next day, the team added Lamma to the group, giving Kaffe a chance to interact with two bears. Although Kaffe tried to play with her, Lamma wasn’t interested so Kaffe gave up and went back to playing with David, who was already becoming a trusted friend.

Kaffe and Lamma 2Kaffe and Lamma try to wrestle

On the third day, Nelson was introduced. This time, Kaffe tried his awkward best to make friends and keep up with the bigger and boisterous bear, but Nelson’s enthusiasm seemed too much for Kaffe at this stage.

Kelly added:

“Throughout the day, Kaffe seemed overwhelmed by Nelson’s rough play. Being quite a bit smaller and less conditioned for such action as well as still new to interacting with other bears, the new confidence he had gained with David and Lamma waned. It’s a reminder that for Kaffe, this is likely the first time he’s had the opportunity to spend time with his own kind.”

Towards the end of the day, Kaffe indicated that he would need more time with the calmer bears before being ready to take on friendly, yet intense, Nelson. The two did play together, and their carers have high hopes they will soon form the firm friendship they both need.

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director Heidi Quine said:

“Poor Kaffe has such a lovely personality – he so dearly wants to make friends and interact with the other bears, but his confidence needs more time to fully mature. We’ll continue the integrations over the coming days and weeks to give Kaffe time to adapt, but with his positive attitude, it should only be a matter of time until he realises how bears behave with each other and they are all spending lazy days in the sun together.”

Kaffe explores the great outdoors at VBRC 2Kaffe explores the great outdoors at VBRC 3