VIDEO: The heart-melting moment moon bear Snow let us know he was going to be ok

11 May 2017

When rescued from a bile farm, Snow’s body was so horrifically mutilated we worried he would never come out his shell – but he’s surprised us all.

During Snow’s rescue from a bear bile farm in Vietnam’s Dak Lak province last December, the government officials and local media who came to oversee the operation let out an audible gasp.

Animals Asia’s rescue team were performing an emergency health check on Snow and had just pulled one of his deformed claws out of a festering wound on his paw.

The stench of rotting flesh was unbearable and the length of claw that emerged from the puss-filled wound shocked everyone watching.

The neglect Snow had suffered had been so severe that his claw had curled round, punctured the pads and continued to grow – embedding itself ever deeper into his flesh till it touched the bone. This slow and painful process would have taken years.

But that wasn’t the biggest surprise of Snow’s rescue. The health check confirmed the vet’s worst fears, first piqued when they observed Snow’s difficulty eating.

While during rescues bears usually use their long tongues to lick sweet treats from carers’ spoons, Snow was taking the whole object in his mouth, and even then, much of the sticky goodness was dribbling back out again.


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The health check revealed why Snow had no tongue. It had been torn off in one of the many traumatic experiences which made up his long-suffering life.

Every bear rescued from bile farm cruelty is an individual case who adjusts – or not – in their own time and way. Such was the desperate state of Snow that it wasn’t clear if he would ever be able to recover and be a bear in a community of his peers.

But this week, this exceptional moon bear showed us all that he is ready to embrace his new life.

Despite having spent a few weeks in an outdoor enclosure with new friends Easy and Poe, Snow was still showing signs of nervousness and unease.

Snow and Easy


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But just as Poe was enjoying a cooling dip in the pool, Snow confidently approached – making it clear to his friend he was ready to play. To his carers this simple action meant the world. It was a clear sign that Snow was going to be ok.

Animals Asia Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt said:

“Snow is still nervous about his new enclosure so it was really special that he came and initiated play with Poe. The two have been getting along well but usually it is the more confident Poe – always going further and faster – who begins a gentle wrestle.

“To see Snow assert himself – after all he’s suffered – is a hugely positive sign that he trusts the bears he’s living with and feels relaxed and hopefully ‘at home’ in the enclosure. He was telling Poe, ‘let’s play’ but it also felt like he was telling us, ‘I can do this. I’m ok now. I’m happy here.”

Poe (L) and Snow wrestling ScreenGrab