years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Male bear rescued after 14 years in dark, dingy cage
On 24 November 2009, four of our Vietnam team (Director Tuan B, vets Leanne and Kirsty and bear worker Tuan W) drove to Hue Province in central Vietnam about 720km from our Tam Dao rescue centre to rescue a 14-year-old male moon bear from private owners – a middle-aged couple who had kept him in a dark and depressing cage at the back of their kitchen for 14 years.
The couple told the team they had bought the bear, originally nicknamed "Misa Hei" and now officially called "Zebedee", when he was a tiny cub of just 30kg after a group of soldiers hit him across the face with a plank, damaging his face and teeth. They took him home and put him in a cage at the back of their kitchen and there he stayed for many long, dark years.
In a way, the owners showed genuine concern for Misa, but they could not explain why they had kept him in such terrible conditions for so long. They told our team they only extracted bear bile once a year and for their own use because they were both diabetic. However, outside their house was a sign advertising fresh bear bile for sale. And on occasion, the owner let slip that they had actually extracted bile every few months or so.
A sign at the couple's home advertises the sale of fresh bear bile.
The owners volunteered to hand Zebedee over to Animals Asia when they were unable to conform to the requirements of Hue Forest Protection Department’s latest inspection. The tragedy of this poor bear’s life was all too evident when our team arrived to pick him up. It was so dark in his cage that they could barely see him – and the flooring was impossible to make out.
Leanne and Kirsty quickly went to work, giving Zebedee a health-check on the spot, including intravenous fluid transfusion. Overall, his condition was remarkably good considering the appalling treatment he had received for almost one and a half decades. His teeth however, were in shocking condition – partly from the initial injury and partly from his diet of congee/soup like meals – and most were later removed.
Leanne gives Zebedee a health-check before departing for Tam Dao.
Hue FPD was very organised and helpful, and they have informed us that Hue Province now has no official bear farm. They had five bears in the province, but all have been moved because their owners could not conform with the new bear-keeping regulations (the other four bears have been moved to Da Nang City).