This year we have partnered with Animals Asia to support their work and help raise awareness about the bear bile trade in Asia. Animals Asia is devoted to ending bear bile farming and improving the welfare of animals across Asia. They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vietnam Government to completely end Bear Bile Farming in Vietnam by 2022.
The team has rescued over 600 bears but there are still more than 400 suffering in terrible conditions in Vietnam. Rescues can be time consuming and complex and the bears need specialist veterinary care and a long rehabilitation process following, very often, years of abuse.
The Animals Asia Vietnam Bear Sanctuary had just 17 places remaining at the start of the year and so we pledged to fund the rescue of 17 bears to bring the sanctuary to full capacity. Rescue costs vary depending on location and complexity but rescue missions involve assessing the bear(s); freeing the bear(s) from their cage; getting the bear(s) into transport cages for the journey to the sanctuary; carrying out health checks.
So far, even with the challenges of Covid-19, EAE funding has helped the AA team successfully rescue 8 bears:
James, Ban & Alice (April)
Florence & Clara (May)
Cotton Blossom (June)
Anh & Em (July)
The 7th and 8th bear rescues happened out of the blue. The team took a call late at night and a story of two caged moon bear cubs unravelled.
The caged cubs were purchased by a man ‘because they looked sad’ from an illegal trader and thankfully then notified the authorities. It is likely that the two cubs were caught in the wild and their mother(s) killed. The cubs were in Yen Bai province, about 4 hours from the sanctuary, and had crept into a tiny crevice when the man had let them out of their cage at his home.
With very little notice the sanctuary team jumped into action. Patiently they lured the frightened cubs out from their hiding place, using their skill and experience and by offering sweet treats.
Bear cubs would normally stay with their mother for up to two years in the wild. Although hunting and trading of bears is illegal in Vietnam, last year in Pu Mat National Park in central Vietnam, rangers removed over 5,000 traps. These Hunters/traders face fines equivalent to $22,000 to $88,000 US or a one to five-year jail term if caught.
Although specialist care at the sanctuary can never replace the role of their mother in the wild, the cubs are now safe from harm or exploitation and thankfully in this tragic situation they have one another for company.
The cubs have been named Anh and Em, which means “big brother” and “little sibling” in Vietnamese, although there is no guarantee that they are siblings.
When they arrived, Anh weighed 10.1kg and Em weighed just 7kg. The cubs were drinking from a bowl within 36 hours of the rescue, and are now happily exploring the cub house. Anh is almost 15kg now, and Em has just teetered over 10kg. Both boys are getting stuck into fruits, vegetables and dog biscuits alongside their milk. Apparently Em loves his dog biscuits, and Anh loves dragon fruit.
Although human contact was needed at first to build trust and provide care for the cubs, the bears are encouraged to rely on one another for comfort and play. When it comes to hands-on care and being in the same space as the cubs, the team take their cue from the bears themselves. Generally speaking, they stop entering the dens and enclosures with the cubs once they reach between 10-15kg in weight. Sarah, the team manager, has worked incredibly hard on a husbandry plan which means the team no longer need to enter the same space as Anh, and rarely now do they need to go in with Em. They work hard to ensure they strike that fine balance between providing love, whilst ensuring they do not inadvertently condition bears to seek comfort exclusively from humans and miss crucial learning opportunities about bear etiquette and behaviour from one another.
We look forward to providing further updates but to find out more about their care and progress so far, please do watch this short film:
The rescued bear cubs Anh and Em are settling in to their new home, the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.Here Senior Bear Team Manager Sarah gives us an update on their progress.#MoonBearMonday#TwoCubsRescue#TheOnlyCureIsKindnesswww.animalsasia.org/twocubs
Posted by Animals Asia on Monday, 10 August 2020