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This inspirational bear has overcome a decade of isolation and trauma

14 September 2017


Just one year on from his rescue from near total isolation as an exotic pet, sun bear Kaffe is happy, healthy and surrounded by friends.

When Animals Asia opened sun bear Kaffe’s cage in August last year, the team had to cut through the padlock.

For nearly a decade the door had remained tightly shut and the lock had rusted beyond repair. It was simply never meant to open again.

Kaffe was brought 1,300km to the safety of Animals Asia’s sanctuary, where his rehabilitation began.

Kaffe and David (4)

The first task was to take away Kaffe’s pain, by removing his rotten teeth – many of which were infected with pus visible around the roots.

Then he was gradually introduced to larger spaces. First a den, and then – when he was ready – the great outdoors. For the first time in Kaffe’s memory, there were no bars between him, the grass and the trees.

Staff immediately noticed Kaffe’s playful nature and knew what he needed next was to finally be among his own kind, and meet other bears for the first time in nearly a decade.

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

“The first time Kaffe met the other sun bears, it really brought home how much he had suffered from being kept alone for so long. He so desperately wanted to make friends – but he just didn’t know how.

“Some of the other bears didn’t like his unusual style of play and Kaffe lost some confidence from that perceived rejection.

“But Kaffe is anything but a quitter. He is a loving, sociable soul and before long he became a much loved member of the sun bear community.”

Today Kaffe is firm friends with sun bear David and has also proven himself to be one of the most confident bears in the group.

V165 Kaffe 11Mar2017 (3)

Animals Asia Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt said:

“Maybe it’s because he spent so long alone with nothing to do, but today Kaffe is very inquisitive and is often the first to investigate new enrichment items and play structures that appear in the enclosure.

“He roams over the entire area, his head furrowed in concentration as he searches for something new to destroy. He is a huge fan of digging holes, tearing apart the bamboo tree protectors, playing in the log piles and generally being a very boisterous little bear.

“Of course, we’re more than happy to repair the damage and give Kaffe new things to keep him busy. We are committed to keeping Kaffe safe, healthy and happy for the rest of his life and will make sure he has everything he needs.”

To date, Animals Asia has rescued nearly 600 bears – mostly from the bear bile industry – with around 270 bears continuing to live out their lives at sanctuaries in Vietnam and China.

Kaffe and David (3)


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