The last bear out of Nanning: Hochi’s story

11 October 2021

Think back to the last time you were in a long queue, maybe in the car or at a supermarket checkout. Those long, agonising minutes slowly ticking by as you patiently wait your turn to move and get to where you want to be.

Now imagine being the last of 101 bears to be moved out of a concrete prison, watching your friends leaving the place you’ve lived together for years, maybe even decades. 

This is what moon bear Hochi experienced five months ago when Animals Asia moved her from Nanning bile farm 750 miles across China to our award-winning bear sanctuary… but not before giving us a terrible fright.

A scary discovery

Our China rescue team was in the throes of the biggest bear rescue operation ever undertaken, and it was going very well.

Two thirds of the bears were safely home at our sanctuary and we’d started moving the final 29 bears. The team decided to perform a health check on Hochi, the last bear to be loaded. Hochi had a wound under her right arm that wasn’t healing.

As the team performed the emergency health check on Hochi the wound started haemorrhaging. Vet Consultant,Eddie explained, “I’d never seen an abscess like this before and began to worry it might be cancerous or even TB.”

As there were no advanced medical facilities at the ex-farm, the team flushed the wound out, gave Hochi antibiotics and took samples, biopsies and swabs to be analysed back at the rescue centre in Chengdu.  

The need to get Hochi to sanctuary had never been more urgent.

Back at Chengdu

Following an epic 750 mile journey across China, stopping every four hours for feeding and checks, and monitored by CCTV, Hochi and our rescue team arrived at Chengdu, our vets and bear carers were ready and waiting, and wheeled her straight to the bear hospital.

Our vet team assessed Hochi’s wound and, after a tense and anxious wait, the results of her swabs came back: it was very unlikely she had cancer or TB! 

With lots of care, attention and love, Hochi was soon recovering and her wound began to heal. And after her 30-day quarantine period, she was finally ready to step out into her new world...

Hochi the diva… 

We first moved Hochi to an area of our sanctuary called Rupert’s Area… but she did not seem very happy there. So we moved her to another area. Again, she made it clear that she did not approve!

Our third attempt was a success: we moved her to House 4 and straightaway she seemed at ease, calmer. She would sit looking at the outside enclosure, waiting patiently for her time in the sun. 

… and destroyer!

Many people imagine that when bears have access to grass for the first time they’ll run straight onto it, but this is rarely the case. The majority of the bears we rescue have been used to man-made concrete walls and cage bars, so are scared of new natural terrain. 

However, as Bear & Vet Team Director Ryan Marcel Sucaet who managed the Nanning operation laughingly explained, “Not Hochi!”

Ryan continued, “Hochi went straight onto the grass to graze and dig in the soil, then went over to check out the pool before breaking through our temporary electric fence (which was thankfully turned off!) to absolutely demolish the bamboo! She was in heaven.”

After everything Hochi had been through, it was as if she was making up for lost time by throwing herself - sometimes literally - into her new life!

Now Hochi’s story is a joyful one. Will you put your kindness in action to conquer cruelty for more bears by donating today?

Read more:

Animals Asia brings 101 bears home in largest ever operation of its kind

Nanning - "It was never a dream"

101 bears home: Meet Smudge, the last bear to be born at Nanning bile farm