Two cubs rescued in Vietnam, near the Chinese border

11 April 2013

Following news that two moon bears cubs had been confiscated in Lai Chau Province in northern Vietnam, an Animals Asia team made the 450km trip from Hanoi arriving late at night. The next morning they met with the Forestry Protection Department to arrange the handover of the two cubs.

The cubs were confiscated from traffickers in the Ban Lang Village, Phong Tho District, near the Chinese border, and handed over to Lai Chau Forest Protection Department. It is likely that they would have been sold to a bile farm.

To follow the rescue step-by-step see our timeline below. Start at the bottom and scroll upwards to read about it as it happened.

11 April 2013 10.00

First pic has arrived from Ngoc, our communications assistant at the scene.

11 April 2013 10.27

Lovely news from Animals Asia Communications Officer Trinh who emails: “We met the two cubs. They have been cared for very carefully by the FPD. Peta (part of the Animals Asia vet team from our Tam Dao sanctuary) said that they are an appropriate weight. They look healthy, and have lovely fluffy fur. The FPD has taken exceptionally good care of them. They have been fed with milk every two hours."

11 April 2013 10.45

More info from Trinh.  Apparently these are two girls.  One is 3.8kg and a little quiet and nervous but lovely fur and a full moon bear crescent.  The other is 3.65kg and is a little more playful.

11 April 2013 10.50

The team are calling this the Lai Chau April Rescue – we’re awaiting cub names.

11 April 2013 13.30

We've received a couple of short smart phone movies of the cubs which we've pliced together here. The first appears to be the cubs in the cage they've been staying in with the FPD and then in a travel cage.

11 April 2013 16.40

Tomorrow the cubs and the team will travel the bumpy road back to our Tam Dao sanctuary. Last time the trip took 12 hours with the cubs needing feeding four times a day and with the quality of the road meaning regular breaks were necessary.

On that occasion, there was another reason for delay – an altogether positive one. We wrote:

“The rescue team was stopped four times either by the police or local FPD, after reports by locals who saw the cubs on the road. This is an encouraging situation, with people taking action to protect wildlife that they think may be in danger.”

A positive change that means the trafficking of these cubs, such as these two, will increasingly not be tolerated by neither public nor authorities. These cubs have had a hard start to life but they will never know the horror of a bear bile farm.

We’re hopeful of receiving more pics, videos and information this evening once the team has a chance to return to their hotel ahead of the long drive and we’ll share those with you tomorrow. We’ll also be following their progress as they head back to the Tam Dao sanctuary.

Vietnam director Tuan and Peta from Animals Asia’s vet team with Lai Chau officials

12 April 2013 6.43

Absolute silence from the team last night despite our best efforts to contact them. Just as we started to worry we received a message saying both 3G and wifi had failed them so they had been unable to share further updates. Presumably the message means they've had an early start and they've now moved from the 3G blackhole. Not much else to report, the cubs haven't been too co-operative in drinking their milk but they seem fine and as "naughty and playful" as moon bear cubs should be. We're guessing the weather leaves a little to be desired as the team have decided to call the cubs Misty and Rain. Great names. More info promised when the team can get it to us.

12 April 2013 14.00

This picture reaches us from the road as the team stops so Peta, from our vet team, can feed the cubs. The cubs require four-hourly feeds and we know they'd been a little fussy overnight so we imagine they're especially hungry. Misty and Rain and the rescue team should reach their new home at our sanctuary in Tam Dao this evening.

12 April 2013 15.00

Arrived! We had expected them much later but presumably they must have had a very early start. Pictures coming through now as Misty and Rain are introduced to their new home at our sanctuary in Tam Dao. More updates on the cubs next week but it's great to see everyone back safely and fantastic to see these two out and exploring. We're told they're becoming more playful and less nervous by the minute. Much more on Misty and Rain and their rescue next week.