Rescued bear with no tongue savours the taste of freedom from a cage

09 October 2017

Moon bear Cloud may have lost most of his tongue on a bile farm, but he has not lost his appetite for fresh fruit and veg – or his taste for adventure.

One of nine bears who were rescued in June, Cloud had spent the past decade caged on a bile farm in southern Vietnam’s Binh Duong province.

When he arrived at the sanctuary 1,500km away, he was thin, suffering from muscular atrophy and stiffened limbs from being held captive in a tiny space for so many years.

Cloud’s carers also found that he had fractured his incisor and that two-thirds of his tongue was missing – possibly from being bitten off by another bear in a neighbouring cage.

The pads on his paws were cracked and sore.

Cloud's dry and cracked paw

After being caged and abused for years on end, rescued bears can find it extremely challenging to tackle the strangeness of wide, open spaces.

But when Cloud went out for the first time a few weeks ago, he immediately began clambering around the trees and bamboo playing frames of his new home – and eating everything he could sniff out.

Cloud’s carers say he is loving the plump bananas, juicy watermelon and crunchy carrots he forages for in his enclosure after a decade of unsuitable rice gruel.

Cloud explores the sanctuary

Animals Asia Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt said:

“When we first met Cloud, we were concerned about his eating. He struggles to move food around and down his throat because of his lack of a tongue. We would often find that he could only manage about half the food that had been chopped up for him.

“But after a few months in the sanctuary, he is now coping beautifully. He likes to feed from a spoon, although his big appetite means he gets a bit greedy sometimes and snatches at the spoon before there’s a chance to fill it! He also eats by tipping back his head when he’s taken a mouthful of food so as to chew and swallow it comfortably. 

“After being deprived of a healthy diet for so long, it is a pleasure to see Cloud taking so much enjoyment in the nutritious food he now receives.”

Recovery from surgery meant Cloud hasn’t yet been integrated with other bears, but his carers believe it is just a matter of time before he is sharing his new outdoor world with other rescued bears.

Cloud explores the sanctuary

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

“Cloud’s increasingly glossy fur, strengthening muscles and softer foot pads indicate the steady transformation of this spirited bear.

“With constant positive reinforcement, Cloud has grown to trust the people that care for his well-being and is growing stronger every day. It is only a matter of time before he is ready to make friends with other bears and finally start living the life he deserves.”

Cloud’s carers are hopeful that in the coming months he will be introduced to other rescued bears and be able to live in a community of friends.

To date, Animals Asia has rescued over 600 bears – mostly from the bear bile industry – with around 270 bears continuing to live out their lives at sanctuaries in Vietnam and China.

Around 1,000 bears in Vietnam continue to suffer from the trade in medicinal bile, although a landmark legal agreementsigned between Animals Asia and the Vietnam government will see the industry completely eradicated within the next five years.

Cloud explores the sanctuaryCloud explores the sanctuary

This article was amended to clarify that the MOU will run for five years from the date of the last signature.