The ‘Real’ Paddington Bear Has Died

by Jon D. B.
Asian black bear. AFP PHOTO / RAYMOND ROIG (Photo credit: RAYMOND ROIG/AFP via Getty Images)

“This is the saddest news we’ve had to share in a long time,” Animals Asia begins of their tragic announcement. Their beloved rescue, Paddington Bear, has died just one month after being rescued from a horrific bear bile farm in Vietnam.

To the world, Paddington Bear is the marmalade-loving, pea coat-wearing staple of children’s literature. But to rescue organization Animals Asia (AA), Paddington was the sweetest Asian black bear in need of saving.

“We rescued Paddington from a tiny cage on a bile farm, where she’d spent 17 years – probably her entire life – suffering the indignity, pain and trauma of repeated bile extraction,” the organization offers in their media release on Paddington’s passing. In her last month, Paddington would receive world-class veterinary care, meals, and treats – including her fictional counterpart’s favorite: marmalade sandwiches.

She became a celebrity in the process, too, winning over millions of hearts in true Paddington Bear fashion. Yet all the love in the world couldn’t overcome almost two-decades of torture inside a tiny cage.

“The vet team quickly discovered Paddington was suffering from a range of serious health conditions as a result of her confinement and experiences on the farm, and put Paddington under intensive monitoring in the quarantine area, where every rescued bear spends their first 30 days,” Animals Asia recalls. But after two weeks, “Paddington’s [caretakers] found her trying in vain to get up and seeming unaware of her surroundings.”

AA’s vet team responded quickly, rushing her to their on-site bear hospital for thorough examination. “There were clearly issues but as they were likely in her brain, all the team could do was to administer symptomatic relief and monitor her closely.”

‘Just two hours later, Paddington Bear stopped breathing. The team performed CPR on her for 10 minutes, but despite everyone’s heroic efforts, she tragically slipped away.’

With broken hearts, AA details Paddington’s last moments. “Just two hours later, Paddington stopped breathing. The team performed CPR on her for 10 minutes, but despite everyone’s heroic efforts, she tragically slipped away.”

Post-mortem and preliminary lab reports would show that Paddington had suffered from swelling of the brain, likely a side-effect of her long years in a cage.

“The trauma and the suffering of bears on farms are unimaginable. We have to get the bears out of the farms as quickly as we can. I will never forget the feeling of performing CPR on Paddington, those chest compressions,” offers AA Vet Team Department Director Heidi Quine. “The team and I fought for her life just as hard as she did. I don’t ever want to do that again.”

The next day, Paddington Bear was buried in Animals Asia’s sanctuary graveyard. It’s the final resting place of many bears the conservationists have rescued. The sanctuary team then held a funeral service where Paddington’s caretakers, “shocked and devastated,” recited poems and letters they’d written for their late friend.

“Even though Paddington’s time with us wasn’t long, it was the happiest and most care-free time that she ever had,” recalls Lý Mai Hân, AA Junior Veterinary Surgeon. “Her story will once again emphasize how cruel bear bile farming can be and gives us the strength to keep moving forward until we end this cruel practice, one day not far.

“For now, Rest In Peace, Precious Paddington. Hope our yummy marmalade sandwiches will accompany you to the place where only love and freedom can reach.”