Rescued bear cub Wonder update

05 October 2021

Two weeks ago Animals Asia rescued a moon bear cub from the illegal wildlife trafficking trade in Vietnam.

We nicknamed her ‘Wonder’, as we wondered what she had already been through in her short life and what would have happened if we hadn’t reached her in time. We wanted to help her recover from her traumatic start and fill her world with wonder. Also her fur forms a W-shaped pattern on her chest.

Tentative first steps

During her first few days at Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary, Wonder was understandably nervous and confused and displayed stereotypic behaviours often seen in captive animals. 

As with all bears we rescue and bring to our sanctuaries, Wonder was checked over by our veterinary team to make sure she was physically fit and to assess any immediate issues. 

Shaun Thomson, Senior Veterinary Surgeon said “we didn’t find anything of concern with Wonder, so we’ll give her some time to grow before we bring her in for her initial health check.”

We moved Wonder into our quarantine area, where all new arrivals spend their first days at sanctuary to protect them and our resident bears from any potential infectious diseases. 

The all-important quarantine period 

As well as protecting them, the quarantine period is an essential part of the bears’ integration into sanctuary life.

Because the bears we rescue have spent most of their lives in small cages, it is imperative that we don’t shock or scare them by giving them access to lots of open space right away. 

So for Wonder’s first 45 days at sanctuary she’ll stay in a temporary cage where she’ll receive round-the-clock care including lots of healthy food and snacks, an abundance of enrichment items, and lots of love and attention!

Building trust and confidence

The quarantine period enables our bear care team space and time to provide Wonder with the physical, psychological and emotional care she desperately needs at this important stage of her life. It also allows them to closely monitor her behaviour and her reactions to new foods and enrichment.

Perhaps most importantly of all, it gives Wonder uninterrupted time and space to get to know and trust her carers and develop a bond with them. 

Wonder’s patient, compassionate carers are essentially doing the job that her mother would be doing in the wild. 

Just like a child! 

After just a few days with us, Wonder’s curiosity got the better of her and she started to accept enrichment items from her carers. 

The carers’ relief and joy were palpable as they watched her dive in to investigate the wonderful new things around her. In no time she was throwing herself around with abandon as she delighted in the new tastes, sounds and textures of hessian sacks, banana leaves, tube feeders and - a moon bear favourite - the water hose!

She also started to eat, drink and sleep better. However, one of her carers Phuong, who is a mum of two children, noted that “Wonder is a typical child, she is much more interested in new toys than food!”

A hopeful future for Wonder and other trafficked cubs

We are confident that Wonder will grow into a confident, happy and playful bear which is testament to the unwavering patience, love and dedication of her carers. 

But as with many rescues we undertake, Wonder’s was bittersweet. We know that there are wildlife traffickers still out there, snatching cubs from their mothers in the wild to be sold into uncertain, yet certainly terrifying, situations.

The man who was arrested for trafficking Wonder was part of a trafficking ring. Although he will face the prospect of a fine and prison sentence, his wider network is still active.

The Dien Bien police force who intercepted the trafficking operation and recovered Wonder is actively working to catch the gang responsible. 

Our amazing rescue team, Hiep, Ngoc and Tuan, developed a strong relationship with the police force and we are hopeful that they will contact us if and when they recover more cubs from this terrible, illegal trade.

With your help we can rescue more trafficked cubs.

Join our rescue team with a monthly donation to rescue and rehome these poor cubs and other bears who urgently need our help. 

Read more:

Bear cub ‘Wonder’ is rescued from illegal traffickers and arrives safely at Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary