Rescued moon bear Amy is terribly weak but her beautiful personality shines through

17 April 2019

A long rehabilitation process is expected for moon bear Amy as starvation and dehydration means vets dare not yet risk surgery. 

Rescued last week after nearly 15 years of neglect and abuse on a bear bile farm in Vietnam, moon bear Amy’s poor condition means a long period of rehabilitation is expected.

The moon bear – an endangered species protected by Vietnamese law – weighed just 82 kilogrammes when she arrived at Animals Asia’s sanctuary on Monday 8 April. Experts say this is around half of her natural body weight.

After just seven days in sanctuary, Amy has already put on 9kg, thanks to an improved diet and free access to drinking water after years of dehydration.

Animals Asia vets have discovered that all four of Amy’s canine teeth are broken leading to disease and agonising pain. However, she is still so emaciated and weak that her rescuers don’t dare yet put her body under the strain of surgery.


Instead her pain will be managed in the short-term with a diet of painkillers and soft-boiled food before she has built enough strength to safely endure surgical intervention.

Further analysis by the vet team has revealed that Amy’s gall bladder is enlarged – a sure sign she suffered illegal bile extraction – but for now there appears no risk of life-threatening tumours.

Tragically, Amy’s body is mutilated due to her capture and mistreatment over many years.

Her right forearm is missing, most likely an injury from being trapped in the wild when she was just a cub, while part of her tongue has also been torn off.

Amy's paw is dry and cracked from never stepping on grass

In recent years this injury has been observed in a number of bile farm bears and is believed to be caused by fights with other bears through the bars of their cages during captivity.

But despite her awful condition, Amy is already showing signs of improvement.

In addition to her swift weight gain, Amy has been enjoying a range of delicious food that is in stark contrast to the unsuitable diet of rice slops she was fed on the farm for so many years.

In sanctuary Amy has enjoyed apples, mangoes and tomatoes and has a particular fondness for jam.

Due to her damaged tongue, Amy tends to balance her food on the back of her paw and spoon it into her mouth.

Another major change in Amy’s life is a programme of enrichment items designed to stimulate her and encourage natural behaviours.

Sanctuary staff report Amy – like many other bears at Animals Asia’s sanctuaries – loves to play with hessian sacks and has been making fluffy nests out of leaves and straw supplied by her carers.

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

“For the next 45 days Amy will be in quarantine to protect our current population of bears and also give her really intensive care. Eventually we’ll look to move her to bigger spaces, before integrating her with our community of bears here in the sanctuary and moving her out to one of the beautiful semi-natural enclosures.

“The road ahead is long for Amy. I don’t think her rehabilitation process will be easy, but we will not give up on her. She’s a really special little bear.”

Our work doesn’t end when a bear is rescued. That’s when it really begins… 

A gift from you today could help support the long-term care and rehabilitation facing Amy. Could you help mend this brave bear?