Saved From Smugglers and on the Brink of Death

Now bear cubs enjoy new life in sanctuary 


May 16, 2019 – Two young female bears, who were confiscated from the wildlife smugglers, frolic and run in a video that shows them being introduced to their new enclosure at FOUR PAWS’ BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh in Vietnam. 

The Asiatic black bear cubs named Mi and Tam are sisters and had a very hard start to life. Back in January, when they were only a few weeks old, they were snatched from their mother and had fallen into the hands of wildlife smugglers. The illegal trade of the two bear babies was thankfully foiled and the bears were confiscated at the last minute by a coalition effort made up of Vietnamese police and local authorities, Education for Nature-Vietnam, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, and FOUR PAWS International.

Mi and Tam were extremely weak and dehydrated, weighing under 2 pounds each, as they were handed over to FOUR PAWS in Hai Phong province. FOUR PAWS team provided the two bear babies with round-the-clock medical care for months. Two keepers fed them with a special puppy milk every 3 hours, and enticed long naps in their soft, towel-lined and heated box.

"We are overjoyed that these two bears have defied all odds. The once weak animals have become so strong, fun-loving and full of life. Seeing the two cheerfully romping around in their enclosure is the best reward for all our efforts."

Emily Lloyd, Animal Manager at FOUR PAWS Vietnam

Since the rescue, the whole team had noticed that Mi is the smaller and weaker cub and was having difficulty with basic locomotive skills.

“We were really worried about the health status of Mi at this time.“ Emily continued, “She was small and had a hard time moving and walking. When compared to her sister, she was not able to coordinate her movements well. But Mi is a fighter. And we saw great progress when we found the right combination of treatments and practices.“

The FOUR PAWS Viet veterinary team worked together with external neurologists to try and improve her condition through medical support and physiotherapy. Mi responded well to the treatment and her coordination greatly improved. Mi gained weight and grew, became incredibly active over time.

The specialized care has paid off and four months later, Mi and Tam each had gained over 35 lbs. Now out of danger, Mi and Tam can move from quarantine and be introduced to their new outdoor bear enclosure.

Since Mi and Tam have relied so heavily on human contact for survival, they cannot be released into the wild. Luckily, they have found a safe, state-of-the-art home at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. 

FOUR PAWS officially opened its BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh to the public on the March 7th, of this year, but it has been helping rescue bears from the bile bear industry for the past two years. The sanctuary is located in the Ninh Binh Province of Vietnam and already provides a species-appropriate home for seventeen bears, including fifteen former bile bears.

In the past, these bears have been illegally drained of stomach bile through painful and often unmedicated means. Bile has been considered a remedy in traditional Chinese medicine. There are still an estimated 800 bile bears suffering on around 250 bear farms. FOUR PAWS therefore calls on the Vietnamese government to press ahead with the closure of bear farms and to place the animals in sanctuaries.

The BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh will have space for 100 abused bears once all construction work has been completed. Not only will it provide a species-appropriate home for former bile bears and victims of wildlife smuggling, it will also serve as an education centre for animal and species conservation in Vietnam. Built to the latest standards, the centre currently has its own veterinary clinic, two bear houses, a quarantine station and four outdoor enclosures.

On May 17th, 2019, a FOUR PAWS team will rescue 3 bile bears from a farm in Binh Duong Province and bring them to the BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh.  The animal welfare organization plans to release more suffering animals from their tiny cages in the coming months.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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