Rescued sun bear arrives at sanctuary after 15 years of cruelty

14 December 2018

Having been freed on Monday from the cage which held her for 15 years as an exotic pet, sun bear Aurora arrived at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre on Friday at 2:30pm (GMT+7).

She was brought over 1,500km by truck from Tay Ninh province, which borders Cambodia, during a gruelling 5-day journey through torrential rain and floods in central Vietnam.

Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen, who oversaw the rescue, said:

“It’s been a long and difficult rescue, many of the team have been on the road for more than a week, but the most important thing is that Aurora is safe now.

“Our agreement with the Vietnamese government will completely end bear bile farming and see every captive bear transferred to sanctuary. Bears like Aurora are the beneficiaries of this agreement and we won’t give up until the last bear is removed from cruelty.”


A preliminary health check during the rescue revealed signs that Aurora may have suffered bile extraction, although further medical examination will be required to be sure.

The health check during the rescue showed evidence that Aurora was suffering from arthritis due to inactivity, suspected gall stones – possibly as a result of bile extraction – and dental disease from an inappropriate diet.

Aurora will now begin a 45-day quarantine period to protect the health of the other bears on site. During this time she will receive full health care and be kept stimulated with a customised enrichment programme.

Following quarantine, Aurora will be moved to progressively larger spaces, integrated with other sun bears and – when she is ready – be given access to a large, outdoor enclosure filled with trees and play structures.

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

“We’re delighted to have Aurora home and her rehabilitation began as soon as she came off the truck. We are committed to love and care for Aurora for the rest of her life, just as we are for every bear we rescue. Today, cruelty ended for Aurora and a beautiful new life has begun.”

Animals Asia was alerted to Aurora’s situation by a traditional medicine practitioner based in Tay Ninh who has worked with the charity for four years to promote herbal alternatives to bear bile.

Aurora is the 201st bear rescued by Animals Asia in Vietnam. The charity has rescued a further 418 bears in China.

In 2017, the Vietnamese government signed a landmark agreement with Animals Asia to shut down every bear bile farm and send all 800 captive bears to sanctuaries by 2022.

Animals Asia is a pioneer in combatting the bear bile farming industry. In 1998, it was the first to expose the harsh realities of this once-hidden trade. It has since rescued more than 600 bears from the industry in both Vietnam and China.

In just the last four months, Animals Asia has successfully rescued eight bears, including Aurora, from farms throughout Vietnam.

The organization’s Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson, is considered the world’s leading authority on bear bile farming, having dedicated her life to exposing and eradicating this brutal industry for more than 20 years. Today, nearly 200 bears live in peace and tranquility at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, while 190 are looked after by the organization in China.

Our work doesn’t end when bears are rescued. That’s when it begins!A gift from you could help heal the deep scars, physical and emotional, that cruel bile farming leaves behind. Donate now.