A moon bear in Vietnam was expected to arrive at its new home on Friday after being rescued from a resort where it had been locked alone in a cage for more than 10 years.
The bear, named Bao Lam, is almost at the end of a 1,500km journey from Lam Dong province to a sanctuary after being rescued by Hong Kong-based charity Animals Asia this week.
The rescue has been documented live on social media.
WATCH as Bao Lam tastes freedom
The bear will be quarantined and rehabilitated at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park.
“We need to get Bao Lam home to our sanctuary where he can be rehabilitated and live the full, happy life that should have been his all along,” Animals Asia said.
There are more than 1,200 bears in small cages in Vietnam – many in bile farm cages with others kept as exotic pets or for performance. Animals Asia has rescued almost 600 bears.
Bile bears, also referred to as battery bears, are kept in captivity to harvest their bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that is used by some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. There is no evidence that bear bile has any medicinal effect.
Animals Asia said Bao Lam was caught and caged when she was a cub and is now about 12 years old.
Healthy moon bears expect to live about 30 years .
Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said: “This is a story and an act of cruelty that belongs in the past. And we do believe that Vietnam is changing. We must believe that animal life is worth more now and that attitudes are changing fast.
“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. It is our privilege to rescue Bao Lam and to give her the life she deserves but we mourn those bears that died and the 1,200 bears still caged in Vietnam.”
Each bear costs Animals Asia more than US$900 per month to care for.
Donations to Animal Asia towards the cost of the rescue and Bao Lam’s subsequent care can be made at http://bit.ly/SaveBaoLam