Rescued from bile farms - the "lucky 13" bears start rehabilitation

10 July 2015

The “Lucky 13” moon bears rescued from bear bile farms by Animals Asia are beginning to settle well in their new home.

The bears, rescued from farms in Quang Ninh province during a mammoth four-day operation, are becoming accustomed to the Tam Dao rescue centre where they will be cared for and safe for the rest of their lives.

Supervisors at the sanctuary have already acted swiftly to treat a range of conditions among the bears, caused by their captive existence to date and lack of adequate care. This has included surgery to remove a toe, while another has severe cataracts which are being closely monitored. Several bears will need dental work to remove infected teeth, caused by poor diet and literally trying to chew their way out of cages.

The 13 are all settling in at different rates. Animals Asia’s priority is to make them comfortable and try to get them back to full health as quickly as possible as they see out their 45-day quarantine.

Here are Vietnam Bear Manager Sarah Dempsey’s updates on the “lucky 13”:

Cinnamon and Angelica

“Cinnamon and Angelica are both settling in well and we’re pleased to report these two both seem content. Cinnamon isn’t so keen on the carrots and tomatoes on her new menu but she loves the dog food she’s receiving. Conversely, Angelica leaves a lot of her dog food, instead polishing off every last morsel of sweet potato.”

Shanti is a bit drowsy


“Shanti was somewhat nervous and aggressive when she arrived at the centre. At first she just sat in the corner growling and lunging at anyone who got too close - we fear she was treated badly and naturally mistrusts people as a result. When she was rescued her health check revealed she has cataracts in both eyes which also partly explain her behaviour. We’ll assess the cataracts and see if we can operate to remove them and restore her sight. We hope that Shanti will see again.”

Moon bear Cinta in cage on Ty bear bile farm


“Cinta was rescued from the same farm as Shanti. He too was aggressive and nervous - and on his first full day at the centre was physically shaking with fear. Thankfully, he has grown in confidence and eats almost everything. He is naturally curious to play with toys and other items, and already he is a happier, more confident bear than when we rescued him.


“Bao was found in poor condition, suffering fur loss and thickened skin from rubbing her head against the cage bars. Her front right paw was missing three digits and an ultrasound showed injuries which suggests bile was extracted on many occasions. Little wonder she head sways a lot and so far has been aggressive towards staff and other bears, often letting out a low growl when staff are around or towards her neighbour Kujira.

Kujira is found with a scars-covered face and wound bleeding on chest


“Kujira was in poor health when rescued with many injuries. He has three broken teeth and his claws are badly overgrown. He was also very underweight so it is pleasing he is eating very well, only leaving tomatoes and carrot. He adores being showered and has a charming habit of trying to drink from the hosepipe.”

Gizmo's happy smile after being rescued


“Gizmo shows a huge appetite and is a calm easy-going bear.. Another shower-loving bear, he sits up at the bars whenever he sees staff with the hose. When they oblige with a spray, he rolls onto his back with his feet in the air so workers can spray his belly.

Sunny and Kane

“Sunny was the bear that presented the rescue team with one of the greatest challenges, as he was so nervous nothing would make him venture out from the cage. No amount of sweet treats - honey, strawberry jam, marshmallows, sugar cane and sweet milk - would do the trick and in the end had to be sedated. By contrast, perhaps tempted by seeing what was on offer, Sunny’s pal Kane took little persuasion. Both are settling in well at the rescue centre and are awaiting full medical checks.

Fluffy, Hatu, Bi Do and Lucky

“Fluffy and Hatu arrived on the morning for the final day and were joined that evening by Bi Do and Lucky. They are eating well and their new surroundings are still very new to them. The next steps for them will be to receive full health checks but so far we are confident they will feel settled before long. Bi Do in particular has settled more quickly, proving to be a calm and gentle bear that does not seem bothered at all by the presence of staff.

“Lucky needed surgery because her claws had grown so much they had curled round and pierced her foot. It has meant having to amputate one of her toes because of the extent of the damage. She is recovering well now and we look forward to seeing the difference that living without pain makes to her.”

More reading: Five stages from bear bile farm to freedom