Abused Bear Rescued After Being Kept in Tiny Cage for Years

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: AFP Contributor / Contributor

After 17 years of captivity, a bear in Vietnam has finally been rescued.

According to a press release, rescuers from a group called Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based charity, were first notified about the bear by the Forest Protection Department in Nam Dinh province of Vietnam. After rescuers made the four-hour trip to the farm, they found the female bear named Paddington. She was reportedly being used for bile and was confined in a tiny cage.

The farmer initially bought Paddington in 2005 from a wildlife trafficker. As a result, she tragically spent 17 years in the cage and was used for bile extraction.

According to experts, bear bile has been proven to help eliminate gallstones and treat liver disease. People also sell bile commercially. It’s also peddled as a cure for cancer, colds, and hangovers. However, no scientific evidence proves it can cure any of these illnesses.

While bear bile farming is outlawed in Vietnam, some people harvest it in certain regions. Sadly, more than half of Vietnam’s bear population is confined to farms.

Bear used for bile extraction found to have extreme dental problems

Once rescuers arrived, they found Paddington’s cage in a dark room at the farm, where she was rocking back and forth. Per Animals Asia, this rocking is the usual behavior they often see in traumatized bile bears.

After they removed her, she was sedated while veterinarians examined her. After their initial health assessment, they found she had extreme dental problems. This resulted from chewing on the bars of her cage for years, another standard behavior among bile bears.

In addition, the farmer released the bear willingly. He told Animals Asia his “only wish was to see the bear living the rest of her life as a bear should be.”

They then transferred Paddington to the Animals Asia sanctuary in the Tam Dao district. After she settled in, they found she had a good appetite. They observed her eating snacks such as banana leaves, carrots, tomatoes, apples and pumpkins. In addition, wildlife officials will carefully watch her for one month before introducing her to the other animals in the sanctuary.

The process of extracting bile is not for those with weak stomachs. People remove bile by pushing a steel or perspex catheter through the bear’s abdomen and into the gallbladder. As a result, this method can be painful for the bears. They are often sedated with ketamine or restrained during the process.

In addition to the pain, the horrific process can cause infections, starvation, dehydration and other issues. Sadly, thousands of animals are still kept in captivity on bile farms in countries such as China, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.

In February, an animal welfare charity, Four Paws, rescued nine bears that had spent their lives in cages for the purpose of bile extraction. Once the crew arrived, they found several of the animals were emaciated and weighed only about 110 pounds.