Rescued Ti Map’s biggest challenge is stepping outside

30 January 2015

Ti Map exploring great outdoors in his enclosure 4

After 14 years in a cage, rescued moon bear Ti Map has finally overcome fear and cruelty to step out on the grass of his sanctuary and new home.

It follows a dramatic rescue from Vietnam's Binh Thuan province in March last year which saw the Animals Asia team drive nearly the full length of Vietnam with this precious cargo.

Since then, this beautiful bear – who has never known freedom – has been quietly completing a challenging rehabilitation.

When first sedated and removed from his bile cage, Ti Map twice stopped breathing. His life was saved by the quick thinking of Senior Veterinarian, Joost Philippa, who managed to restart his heart.

From then on, Ti Map – whose name means Chubby Mouse – has been closely watched by carers. Day by day he has begun to realise his life has turned a corner and there will be no going back to a cage.

Ti Map exploring great outdoors in his enclosure 1

When the time first came for Ti Map to step out on to the grass – something he had never done before – he was understandably reticent. Staring through his open door for weeks on end, it took him an age to summon up the courage.

Animals Asia Bear Manager, Sarah Dempsey, said:

"Thankfully, Ti Map is doing much better now and is standing on the grass. He is still not wholly comfortable with the great outdoors and shows a preference for being inside, but it is not uncommon for bears that have been kept caged for so long to react this way. He needs to learn to trust and realise life with a natural forest enclosure and opportunity to forage really can be much better than what used to be the 'norm' for him."

From the outset of his rehabilitation, Ti Map's troubles seemed more marked than is normal in bears – even those who have also suffered years of confinement, poor diet and bile extraction.

Thankfully, Ti Map's latest health check just last week by visiting laparoscopy specialist, Romain Pizzi, didn't find any lasting damage to Ti Map's gallbladder.

Sarah said:

"Sadly, our observations over the last months have shown that Ti Map reacts differently to 'normal' things compared to other bears. He is jumpier, less assured, more easily frightened and quite often slower to react to his environment – even treats and toys."

Ti Map exploring great outdoors in his enclosure 5

Having never interacted with other bears, and never enjoyed foraging for a suitable diet, this sensitive soul has become very food motivated and still has limited social skills.

Sarah added:

"His sole focus is usually foraging – especially in the comfort zone of his den. He gets very upset when growled at by other bears and often looks quite confused. Around feeding time he can occasionally squabble with other bears as he gets worked up waiting for his evening meal."

"He doesn't initiate much play with others but will wrestle with boys like Parley, Milagro and Raymond who are gentle, playful bears if they initiate interaction when there is no more food to be eaten!"

"Adapting to a completely different way of life is rarely easy for mentally damaged bears like Ti Map and it'll take time for him to learn how to interact with other bears and his new environment, but we're seeing a gentle and docile personality emerging."

Take your time, Ti Map, we'll be supporting you every step of the way.

Ti Map exploring great outdoors in his enclosure 2