#WishComeTrue: Six bears rescued from bile farm in Vietnam love their new lives

16 January 2018

The six #WishComeTrue bears rescued last month in Vietnam have all received medical care, large indoor dens and their very own pools.

All six bears suffered extreme cruelty for more than 10 years on a bile farm in Vietnam, but just a month later their lives have gone from hellish to heavenly.

Moon bears Mia, Mana, Manu, Holly, Tim and Anh Sang had been poached from the wild and kept in tiny cages since at least 2005 – and all so that their bile could be extracted for use in traditional medicine.

Their suffering ended when they were rescued by Animals Asia and brought to the charity’s sanctuary in the north of the country.

While all six bears have not yet completed their 45 day quarantine period, they have already started to enjoy some of the delights on offer at the centre.

They have all received the medical care they so desperately need and have begun to be treated for a variety of health problems.

Thankfully none of the bears required major surgery and have now all been moved to large indoor enclosures each one kitted out with bear baskets for sleeping, fresh leaves for nest-making, dangling toys for stimulation and even their very own paddling pools.

Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt, who oversees the team caring for the the #WishComeTrue bears explains how they are getting on so far:

“Miss Mia has been loving have two whole dens to explore. She is a dainty bear and can be seen delicately moving between the rooms. It’s a real pleasure to see her slip into her paddling pool like she’s getting in a bath. She even brings her browse in there to play with and has a good old splash.

“She has had an awful time in the past and her health check revealed severe dental disease. Most of her teeth had already fallen out due to the infection and the few remaining teeth were taken out by the vets as they couldn’t be salvaged.

“There have been a lot of firsts for Mia in the last few weeks but she is taking it all in her stride. She is pain-free for the first time in a long time, and has been seen playing with her neighbour Mana through the bars. With luck they could prove to be suitable as future friends.”

“Mana is a poor old man with skin, eye, teeth and joint issues. Your heart just melts when you see his small ears and sparse coat as he searches his surroundings with his nose.

“Mana is blind – not only does he have signs of hypertension and retinal damage, but he’s centrally blind, meaning there’s something wrong with the optic nerve and no light gets through to his brain.

“He also had some very infected and painful looking teeth extracted which were caked with stinking tartar and bacteria.

“His skin should slowly start to improve with a good diet and when he is ready to go out into the sunshine in the future. We’ll keep a close eye on his joints and he’ll receive medication if we see signs of pain.

“In the meantime, lots of food and TLC is what this sweet old man needs, and that’s exactly what he’s getting. He’s in bad shape right now, but I can’t wait to watch him blossom.

“We’ve seen early signs already that he is an outgoing bear despite his issues. He seems fond of climbing in his den and is very interested by puzzle feeders.

“I’ve seen Mana trying to play with both neighbours – though he had more luck with Mia than Anh Sang – and when he fancies a rest he’s decided lying in his basket with his head on his paws is a great way to listen to the world go by.”

“Manu has a beautiful sleek coat with a shiny white crescent with little freckles. She’s very inquisitive and is always quick to come and sniff whenever she has visitors. Thankfully she survived the farm in much better condition than her near-namesake Mana.

“One concern remains with her eyes as vets have identified degeneration of the retina. This only slightly affects Manu’s vision for now, but the fear is it may be progressive and the bad news is this condition can’t be treated.

“We’ll monitor closely for any signs that Manu’s vision is impaired but so far she is doing really well and has already been seen playing with her neighbour Tim. She is a big strong bear though – having already destroyed a number of wooden structures in her den – so like we do with all integrations, introducing her to other bears will be handled with patience and close observations.”

“Anh Sang – whose name means ‘light’ – is quite the water baby! All the bears have loved their paddling pools, but Anh Sang has taken particular pleasure in splashing away her quarantine days.

“Her other passion is climbing. There are plenty of ladders and platforms in her dens and she takes great joy in climbing them. However, she’s been less quick to figure out how to get down! It’s fascinating to watch her seemingly choose the hard way every time, but I always give her a little cheer when she makes it!

“She is on pain relief and antibiotics for now to deal with a nasty bladder infection and to aid recovery from the removal of rotten teeth, but once those issues are cleared up Anh Sang should have a clean bill of health.

“A few months down the line when Anh Sang and the other #WishComeTrue bears are outside in the enclosures it’s a safe bet Anh Sang will be found wading in the large pools.”

“Poor Tim is the skinniest bear of the #WishComeTrue bears. He clearly hasn’t been fed properly and you can see his ribs sticking out.

“That is something we can fix with a healthy, plentiful and nutritious diet – but sadly weight is not Tim’s only issue.

“His teeth were atrocious – caked in smelly tartar, with gingivitis and gum recession – a testament to the wholly inappropriate diet he had been fed on the farm.

“The other issue is his left wrist is fused in a flexed position – most likely due to being caught in a snare in the wild. We’ll keep an eye on him for any signs of pain but for now the main priority is getting this thin boy strong again.

“The early signs are that he is quite playful and likes to keep a keen eye on what his neighbour Manu is up to. I often find him taking browse into his basket to chew and contemplate life.”

“Holly is missing parts of both limbs on her left hand side – possibly from being trapped in the wild – and we’ve since discovered that she has arthritis in the joints of her other limbs from compensating.

“That affects her movement but she is still doing a great job of getting around her den. She’s been swimming and climbing and really enjoying herself although her disability means she has slipped a couple of times.

“At first we were worried about this so we transferred her to a den with lower furniture which we thought would make her life easier. How wrong we were! Holly was sulking and vocalising so much that we soon got the message and moved her back to the den she obviously preferred!

“Other health issues included severely diseased teeth which had to be removed and an eye problem which may be reducing her vision. But despite everything she’s been through Holly is a really sassy little bear who looks really sweet battling on with things despite her health. I can’t wait to see her out in the enclosure – I think she’s just going to love it.”