Tuan and Valerie update, health checks and first steps

17 December 2019


Tuan 1

We brought the big beautiful Tuan home on 15 October after an urgent rescue call. He had spent 15 years on an intensive pig farm where his diet of commercial pig food had led to morbid obesity. The farm was 20km from VBRC, in Tam Duong township. It took just two hours from the initial rescue call to having Animals Asia staff onsite making a plan.

Tuan bear was named in honour of our Vietnam country director Tuan Bendixsen who, for the first time ever, wasn’t able to be on the rescue because of our need to take immediate action. We wanted to make sure there was a Tuan there in his stead. 

Tuan the bear has absolutely massive paws. His captivity in a tiny cage meant that he couldn’t use them normally which made the pads thick and soften.

Tuan foot

Tuan has just had his health-check. Tuan has some of the best teeth on the sanctuary, he has a full set with no fractures. We already knew that he had a large callus on his bum as so many of the rescued bears do from years of just sitting. The vet team did not identify any other major concerns and now that he has finished his quarantine he is in a den and is beginning to explore further and taking his first steps on grass for 15 years! This extra activity will help burn that extra weight he is carrying. Tuan is firmly on the road to recovery and it’s great to know that his best days are ahead of him!

Tuan Scan

Shaun Thomson Senior Vet Surgeon said: 

“It’s so great to have another Tuan at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre. His teeth are in incredible condition and he has a really good appetite. His quarantine period has gone very smoothly and we can’t wait to see how his future integration goes - he has begun stepping out onto the grass as he continues his new start in life!”

Tuan 2


On 6 November we welcomed home the newest member of our bear family, the lovely Valerie. Valerie was very sweet and walked into her transport cage (after a fair bit of coaxing with sweet condensed milk) without the need for an anaesthetic. We rescued her from a circus school along with four macaques which went to the Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Centre where we recently supervised and funded the redesign of their macaque enclosure.

Our initial visual examination revealed that Valerie had some damage to her right eye which appears a bit sunken. After her full health check this week it is still a bit of a mystery. It’s not yet clear whether she was born that way or if a previous injury has caused some scarring to that area. We will monitor for now and seek advice from a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist.

Valerie eye ultrasound

Valerie has numerous dry calloused areas of skin on her head from swaying and rubbing it along the bars of her tiny cage. We hope that with some TLC, good nutrition and a happier life that these will heal over time. 

We had to extract one of Valerie’s molars as it was diseased, wobbly and probably uncomfortable for her while eating. She will finish her quarantine in the next couple of weeks and then she will really get to learn about sanctuary life as she discovers the outdoors and her new friends. 

Valerie's teeth

Heidi Quine Bear and Vet Team Director said:

“Valerie has been living up to her name, she’s brave and courageous and soon her quarantine will be complete and we can help her build up her strength even more. We’ll be encouraging her curiosity and to trust in her instincts. Soon she’ll be able to make even more choices on her own. How she spends her days, where she wants to go and who she wants to play with!”

We are so pleased to have Valerie and Tuan here with us and safe from harm. Their journey to recovery both physically and mentally has already begun.

Tuan and Valerie are going to need lots of love and support to recover from years of being mistreated in tiny cages. Please consider joining Animals Asia and giving a regular monthly gift that will help them on their journey and provide nourishing foods, urgent medicines and everything else a bear could need to be happy and healthy! 

Tuan branch