Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two moon bears arrive at China sanctuary in time for Christmas

Two moon bears arrive at China sanctuary in time for Christmas

Two young moon bears are set for a very merry, and safe, Christmas in China this year, thanks to the Sichuan Forestry Department, and Animals Asia, the animal welfare organisation that runs the only bear sanctuary in China.

Nicknamed Rudolph and Holly to reflect their Christmas arrival, the two Asiatic black bears (known as “moon bears” due to the yellow crescent shapes on their chest), are estimated to be roughly two years old. Both bears seem to be in good physical condition, with healthy bodies and black shiny fur. Each is estimated to weigh around 70-80kg.
The bears were found as cubs in the wild by villagers in Yibin county, in the south-eastern part of Sichuan Province, nearly two years ago. They took the bears in and cared for them but as the bears got bigger, they could no longer afford the amount of food they needed. It also became more dangerous to keep the bears once they were no longer cubs.

It is believed the villagers were approached by traders who wanted to sell the cubs to the horrific bear bile industry, in which bears are milked regularly for their bile, using various painful, invasive techniques. The bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Sichuan Forestry has confiscated the bears and transferred them to Animals Asia’s sanctuary near Chengdu, also in Sichuan Province. As Sichuan Forestry doesn’t want to encourage people to take in bears from the wild, no compensation was paid to the villagers.

The lucky Christmas bears have been delivered to Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre after the long journey from Yibin. At the sanctuary they’ll be provided with everything they need to meet their physical and behavioural needs including veterinary care, nutritious food, comfortable dens, environmental enrichment and access to outdoor semi-natural enclosures.

Toby Zhang, China External Affairs Director, Animals Asia, commented:
“It was a great pleasure to work with Sichuan Forestry to co-ordinate the transfer of these lovely young bears into the care of Animals Asia. The logistics of the transfer were handled very well by their team, and we are delighted to receive the bears at our sanctuary.”

Rudolph is male, and so far is much more confident than Holly, who is thought to be female. Due to Holly’s shyness, it has not yet been possible to confirm the sex. For the first few days at the centre, the bears will be kept in transport cages lined with straw and browse. This allows them to be monitored, let them become accustomed to their new surroundings, learn to trust the Animals Asia team, and receive their initial health checks.

Nicola Field, Bear and Vet Team Director at Animals Asia’s China sanctuary, commented:
“The transfer of the bears went super smoothly, and both of them are doing well. Rudolph in particular seems to have a sweet tooth, and both he and Holly have been tucking into melon and strawberry sauce, and also enjoying fruity ice blocks – another bear favourite! They have good appetites and have been enthusiastically tucking into their nutritious food, like the other bears at the sanctuary. They’re getting comfortable having made themselves nests with straw and browse.”

Once they’ve received health checks from the veterinary team, they’ll be moved to dens in the designated quarantine area of the sanctuary for 45 days. After this they’ll be integrated with the other bears, and moved to dens with access to outdoor enclosures.

Jill Robinson MBE, Dr.med.vet. h.c., Founder and CEO, Animals Asia, commented:
“Providing a home for these two bears is the perfect Christmas present for Animals Asia, our supporters around the world, and for the bears themselves. We offer our heartfelt thanks to the Sichuan Forestry Department. We’re looking forward to getting to know our new family members over the coming weeks.”

More than 10,000 bears – mainly moon bears, but also sun bears and brown bears – are kept on bile farms in China, and around 2,400 in Vietnam. This cruel practice continues despite the availability of a large number of effective and affordable herbal and synthetic alternatives.

Most farmed bears are kept in tiny cages. In China, the cages are sometimes so small that the bears are unable to turn around or stand on all fours. Some bears are put into cages as cubs and never released. Bears may be kept caged like this for up to 30 years. Most farmed bears are starved, dehydrated and suffer from multiple diseases and malignant tumours that ultimately kill them.

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