Endangered moon bear rescued in Vietnam after decade in captivity

By Bui Hong Nhung   August 3, 2016 | 08:32 pm PT
The last survivor of a failed circus can start a new chapter in her life.

Animal welfare charity Animals Asia successfully rescued a moon bear from Dambri Resort in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong on August 2.

The bear, named Bao Lam, was one of 11 bought by a man who intended to set up a zoo. However, the zoo never materialized and Bao Lam is the only survivor.

Earlier this week, Dambri Resort handed over the last bear to Animals Asia, most likely under pressure from the local Forestry Department.

Tuan Bendixsen, head of Animals Asia, said: ““There can be no excuse for what happened to these animals and no excuse for the poor care of these bears except a lack of education.”

“Animal’s lives should be worth more than their monetary value. This is Vietnam’s natural heritage, these bears should not have been bought and sold on a whim. And they shouldn’t have died. Bao Lam has hung on for her rescuers and we arrived just in time,” he added.

Bao Lam will be transported 1,500 kilometers to reach her new home, Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre (VBRC) in Tam Dao National Park, where she can spend the rest of her life with 150 other bears.

Animals Asia estimates that some 1,200 bears are still kept in small cages in Vietnam, of which many are raised as exotic pets while others are used for performances.

Vietnam allows local farmers to raise wild animals providing they have a license issued by authorities. However, a loophole in the licensing process has led to many animals being mistreated.


For the past seven years, this has been Bao Lam’s home - a small corner of a sizeable resort in Lam Dong Province. She was microchipped and registered by the previous owner in 2005, and it’s likely that she was caged for years before that. 


No direct sunlight, nowhere to climb or nest, no other bears to interact with.


Inadequate diet and limited medical care also affected the bear's health.


Bao Lam was anesthetized to be taken out of her cage.


Vets from Animals Asia check on her health.


They found cracked teeth, a cataract and injured front legs that made it difficult for her to walk.

Tuan Bendixsen said: “Obviously the conditions Bao Lam has faced for so long are shocking to us. However, we welcome the decision to hand over this beautiful bear into our care." 


Vets decided to put her on a drip due to dehydration.


Animals Asia has rescued almost 600 bears, the vast majority from bile farms or animal traffickers, in Vietnam and China. Bao Lam is the 163rd bear rescued in Vietnam.

Photo provided by Animals Asia

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