The sad bear who longs to go outside, but can’t find the courage

05 September 2017

Annemarie in her den

Sun bear Annemarie was caged her entire life and one year on from her rescue, she’s still afraid to take her biggest step.

Annemarie spends all day in her den, looking out at the grass and trees.

Since being captured and sold as an exotic pet when just a cub, Annemarie has barely set foot outside. She has never rolled on the grass, climbed a tree or foraged for her food outdoors.

While it typically takes caged bears around two or three months to pluck up the courage to face the big outdoors, one year on from her rescue Annemarie still hasn’t set paw on grass.

Despite constant love and care, Annemarie just isn’t ready.

However, despite their concern for Annemarie, her carers remain committed to working at the little sun bear’s own pace. They believe that one day she will wake up ready to embrace a happier future.

Animals Asia Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt, who cares for Annemarie, said:

“Annemarie is definitely making progress, but at her own pace. We are only now celebrating small milestones such as her first time beginning to play with other bears and her increasing willingness to explore the four dens open to her.”

Socially, Annemarie has also progressed and has been spotted reciprocating in play after fellow sun bear Murphy gently wrestled with her.

Annemarie in her den

Sarah said:

“In the past, being approached by another bear would no doubt have frightened Annemarie, so it really is a heartening sign that she allowed Murphy to bond with her. 

“Patience, love, and some gentle encouragement from the other sun bears is what Annemarie needs now. We've always known this and we'll continue to give Annemarie the time she needs to find her confidence. She is braver than she knows and will – in her own time – gain the confidence to go outside.”

As well as developing more trust with her fellow sun bears, Annemarie has also been bonding with her carers. Recent breakthroughs include being brave enough for hand-feeding and coming forward to accept medications.

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

“It's hard to explain just how incredible these small steps are for a bear as troubled as Annemarie. We'd absolutely love nothing more than to see her outside in the sunshine with the other bears, but we are letting her dictate the pace she's comfortable with.

“It’s been a massive effort to get her to this point, but we’re all determined not to give up until Annemarie has the peace of mind she needs to step out from the shadow of her tragic past.”

Murphy and Goldie playing together funny