Rescued moon bears marvel at something totally new

06 August 2015

Yogi and Coco step outside for the first time

Following their rescue from a bile farm in Vietnam earlier this year, moon bears Coco and Yogi made a landmark step on their road to recovery as they walked outside for the first time in 15 years.

It’s not unusual for bears rescued from a lifetime of suffering on bile farms to be afraid of large spaces and reluctant to leave the safety of their dens. Yet after a decade and a half caged side by side, both Coco and Yogi stepped out confidently and met something totally unexpected – green grass beneath their paws.


Dalma Zsalakó, Bear Manager at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, said:

“When Coco and Yogi worked up the courage to go outside for the first time they were both suspicious of the grass, probably because this was the first time in a very long time that they encountered grass beneath their paws. They sniffed at it with an intense, almost puzzled curiosity before finally taking the plunge and setting foot on it. What a wonderful sight to witness that was.”

Soon though, both bears realised they had nothing to fear from the grass and set about exploring the toys spread around the enclosure and foraging for hidden food treats.

Coco in the enclosure

Dalma said:

“They spend about 30 minutes outside at a time but they remain curious and go outside several times a day, alternating between exploring the enclosure and resting in their comfy baskets in the cool dens.”

The two bears continue to share a special bond from their lifetime in captivity, but there are still times when one or the other prefers to be alone.

Staff watched one particular instance in amazement as Coco playfully approached Yogi but, clearly needing some “me time”, he rebuffed her. Ever-determined, Coco refused to go away, and even when Yogi turned his back she simply lay down next to his basket and kept pawing, poking, and pulling his fur.

Such scenes are a world away from the life of hardship and pain Coco and Yogi endured for so long on a bear bile farm before being rescued by Animals Asia.

Having been poached from the wild, kept in cages, and subjected to regular bile extraction, they now have total freedom to hug, play, wrestle, lounge and forage to their hearts’ content.

Yogi saying hello to the other bear