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Time and again, this moon bear beat the odds – but last month his luck ran out

12 October 2018

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Destined for a life of cruelty on a bear bile farm, rescue meant moon bear Harvey’s 16 years of sanctuary far outweighed his four years of suffering.

Harvey was a moon bear who just wouldn’t quit. Considering all the pain he endured in his life, it is a miracle he was able to enjoy as many years in sanctuary as he did.

When Harvey was rescued from a bear bile farm in Shandong, China in 2002, he was young – about four years old – but already he had been through hell.

He had lost his front left paw when trapped in the wild and had been held in awful conditions so his bile could be extracted for traditional medicine.

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He underwent major surgery – not just to remove his ravaged gall bladder, but also a diseased section of his liver and an abscess in his abdomen.

Later he developed heart disease – common in bile farm bears and thought to be linked to chronic stress – kidney problems, and required gastrointestinal surgery. 

Time and again, Harvey beat the odds. But last month, his luck ran out.

A liver tumour was the likely final cause of death, but a post-mortem revealed Harvey also had a host of other internal conditions.

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Animals Asia Senior Veterinarian Emily Drayton said:

“Harvey was a foody, so it was very concerning when he stopped eating a couple of weeks ago. A steady decline in his weight was further evidence that something was not right and we were all concerned about his liver.

“He survived so much, but in the end, this was one thing too many. He passed gently and quickly, surrounded by those that cared for him.”

Yet for all the undoubted hardship in his life, Harvey enjoyed 16 years of happiness in sanctuary. Years spent expressing natural behaviours, foraging for food, swimming on his back, climbing and bonding with bear friends.

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Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“Harvey would have experienced nothing but pain and stress for his entire life. Instead, he got a second chance and grabbed it with all three paws.

“In the end, his happiness outweighed his suffering. His one life was one he could cherish. A life full of happiness and good memories – a life worth living.”

To date, Animals Asia has rescued over 600 bears – mostly from bear bile farms – in Vietnam and China. The charity currently cares for nearly 370 bears at sanctuaries in both countries.