On May 20th, as the in-country COVID-19 related travel restrictions eased, our local Vietnamese team were able to make the 37 mile journey to rescue two 18-year-old bears from a private backyard and bring them to our BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. The owner has had the bears, Daisy and Jasmine (translated from their Vietnamese names, Cuc and Nhai), since they were just cubs, and sadly both the bears have spent their lives in tiny, dirty metal cages. This is not uncommon in Vietnam, where around 400 bears are still being kept in private keeping and abused for their bile, despite the demand for bear bile for healing purposes is, reportedly declining.
Fortunately, the owner voluntarily gave up the bears after being asked by the authorities. FOUR PAWS was then asked to take over the bears rescue and care.
The initial health checks went smoothly, and the bears cooperated very well with the transport to the sanctuary. When they arrived, they enjoyed their first showers because of the high humidity. Both bears have to undergo a quarantine period of three weeks where they will receive a specialized and intensive veterinary treatment and species-appropriate diet to boost their immune system. They are also supplied with an extensive enrichment program for their mental stimulation.
Update June 4
Daisy and Jasmine have been progressing well at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh and after years of abuse and boredom, have been really enjoyed their enrichment program. At first, Jasmine was observed to be a very picky eater. She ate very slow indicating some dental discomfort. The team has made the decision not to do a full medical vet check at the moment to minimize her stress during her adaptation.
Currently, both the bears are kept separate and unfortunately, don't seem to like each other very much. When they were close together they were growling at one another. Since they were previous kept separate, this is how they will stay: A visual barrier between their enclosures so they cannot see each other. This could be a behavior that will change when the bears are moved to the bear house, and possibly even be integrated with each other in the future.
Update June 12
The bear's quarantine period is over and the bears have been moved to the bear house to begin the next step of their journey to the big outdoor enclosures! Seeing and smelling all the other bears was quite exciting for them. They have hammocks and straw and lots of enrichment to keep them occupied and help them to settle in.
They now enjoy the bigger space and more enrichment . We know it may take weeks and months for them to be fully comfortable utilizing the whole outdoor space without fear. The team consider very carefully that these animals have come from a very confined living and have been abused and traumatized for decades.
Update July 15
Jasmine and Daisy have started exploring their outdoor enclosures at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh for the first time. Daisy is a little more cautious than Jasmine and only ventures a few meters out so far. However, she enjoys just sitting in front of the bear house and taking in the new surroundings. Nhai explores a little further and is very curious about all the grass and plants, stopping to sniff the wild flowers. For both bears this is a big step and it can be very daunting.
Having lived in bile farm cages for decades these new experiences are exciting but also scary. This is why we take their rehabilitation process step by step, gradually adjusting them to their new life.