Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

By Ngoc Thanh   August 7, 2020 | 08:13 am GMT+7
Staff at Vietnam Bear Rescue Center in Vinh Phuc Province spend their days feeding, cleaning after, and sharpening the instincts of traumatized cubs.
Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

These two cubs are nearly four months old, weighing 10 and 7 kg. They were rescued in northern Yen Bai Province on July 19 before being taken to Vietnam Bear Rescue Center, operated by welfare organization Animals Asia Foundation in northern Vinh Phuc Province.

The organization received the moon bears from a man who purchased them from an illegal trader. The man said he had bought the pair because they “looked sad in such a small cage."

Following their rescue, both cubs appeared in a state of panic and refused to eat. But after two weeks of expert care at the facility, the bears started fooling about, freely consuming milk and fruit.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Tong Khanh Linh (R) and Tran Phi Phuong prepare milk for the cubs each day.

"Their main diet is milk. The cubs will gradually stop drinking milk once they reach 20 kg. They follow a daily diet similar to newborn bears in the wild, including four meals at 7 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.," said Linh.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Sarah Van Herpt, a manager at the center, said she spent a lot of time watching the cubs eat and play to devise appropriate food portions and care based on their mentalities.

After two weeks in a special quarantine zone, the bears have slowly acclimatized to their semi-wild environment, she said.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Cubs separated from their mothers early are vulnerable to stress and fear, according to Van Herpt. It may reduce their appetite and affect their immune systems, leading to diseases, she said.

"Stressed bears often walk around, suck on their fingers, chew the bars, scream and act aggressively."

To alleviate that, the center has to limit the number of people around them, reduce noise and make sure their shelters have roofs to protect them from the rain, wind and direct sunlight exposure.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Phuong said her main job is to prepare food for the cubs, clean up after them and monitor their daily behavior.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

"Each day, a bear eats an amount of food equal to 15 percent of their body weight. Now, the older cub drinks about 430 ml of milk while the younger consumes 320 ml per meal. Two weeks after they came to the center, both have reached 12 and 8 kg," said Linh.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

On their first day the cubs were given time to explore their new semi-wild enclosure, both Sarah and Phuong remaining immobile to avoid scaring them and gain their trust.

The bears are fed minced fruits and dog pellets daily to help them grow accustomed to a variety of food.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

To help the bears hone their natural skills, staff would place different objects inside the semi-wild area for the cubs to discover and engage with.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Honey is placed inside an object to help the bears learn to forage for food in the wild.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Since bears naturally ascend to high and dark places when scared, the center has designated a separate area for cubs to hone their climbing abilities.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Staff take turns to clean the cages each day, helping rid the center of pathogens carried by the bears when first rescued.

Rescued cubs equipped with necessities at Vietnam center

Vietnam Bear Rescue Center Vietnam, spanning 12 ha, is located in Chat Dau Valley of Tam Dao National Park. It is the largest bear rescue facility in Southeast Asia, serving nearly 200 previously captive bears. Many of them were either crime evidence or untagged with chips.

Vietnam currently has over 600 bears kept in farms, and only a few hundred roaming in the wild. Many bears were kept in cages to extract their bile, which many believe to be a remedy for various ailments.

Although commercial bear bile extraction was banned in 2005, farms already having the animals were allowed to keep them.

 
 
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