The Swindon Support Group has adopted Misa Hai, a 14 year old male moon bear who was rescued by AAF on 24th Nov 2009. Renamed Zebedee, here is his story……..
Out of the Darkness
On 24 Nov 2009, four of AAF Vietnam team (Director Tuan B, vets Leanne and Kirsty and bear worker Tuan W) drove to Hue Province in central Vietnam about 720km from the Vietnam Tam Dao rescue centre to rescue a 14 year old male moon bear from private owners a middle-aged couple who had kept him in a dark and depressing cage at the back of their kitchen for 14 years.
The couple told the team they had bought the bear when he was a tiny cub of just 30kg after he was attacked by a group of soldiers who hit him across the face with a plank of wood damaging his face and teeth. They took him home but put him in a cage in a dark damp area at the back of their kitchen for many years.
The owners were forced to hand the bear over to AAF when they could not conform to the Hue Forest Protection Department’s latest inspection requirements, thus it was a voluntary confiscation.
Although the owners showed genuine concern for Misa Hai, they could not explain why they kept him in such terrible conditions, and for so long. They said that they extracted bile from him once a year and for their own use, as they were both diabetic but they had a sign outside their house advertising the sale of fresh bear bile. The owners then let out that they extracted bile every few months or so.
The tragedy of this poor Bear’s life was all too evident when the bear team came to pick him up. It was so dark in his cage they could barely see him – and the flooring was impossible to make out.
Overall, the rescue went well, although it was difficult for the vets to see into the cage to dart Misa Hai but they managed to sedate him and carry out a quick health check on the spot, including an intravenous fluid transmission.
Overall, his condition was remarkably good considering the appalling treatment he had endured for almost one and a half decades. He had injury damage to the front of his upper jaw and his teeth were in a shocking condition – partly from the injury and partly from his terrible diet of congee/soup like meals
Under anaesthetic, Misa Hai is carried out of the house and on his way to a new life at the Vietnam Sanctuary.
The Hue Forest Protection Department was very organised and helpful and have informed AAF that they now have no official bear farms left in Hue Province.
When Misa Hai first arrived at the rescue centre he had suffered 14 years of bile extraction on demand and still bore the scars and pain of mistreatment from years before. His face was scarred and misshapen and his teeth rotted with infection. His back teeth were all loose and when wobbled pus poured out from around them.
He immediately went to have his post rescue surgery where the vets had to remove almost all of his teeth leaving him with only bottom incisors and three other teeth. The old fracture of his upper jaw and the fistulas (holes) leading to his nose were both examined, but sadly beyond repair.
After Misa Hai came round he rode back to the quarantine area in a transport cage and was a very good boy and even seemed to enjoy the ride – in fact he looked like he was driving the transport cage himself. After his teeth extraction Misa Hai struggled to eat anything but blended mush but luckily he loves his food and seems to get excited about it anyway. Once his gums heal he will be able to try lots more enrichment treats.
Despite his years of isolation and agony, Misa Hai quickly showed himself to being a forgiving, playful and gentle bear and has taken his rehabilitation in his stride, while endearing himself to the Vietnam team along the way!
The next step of Misa Hai’s recover path was his move to the bear house and into a bear den. As always this lovely boy cooperated fully and made the move without any drama or cause for concern.
Finally Misa Hai was let into his new bear den and the Vietnam team were delighted with his response. This was the first time out of a cage for 14 years and he did great. He walked right out and started exploring the den with confidence, climbing up on the platforms, playing with toys, and generally just moving about – It was incredible to see him enjoy something so basic as having the freedom to move around in open space.
One of the first things Misa Hai did was make friends with his neighbour, a bear called Henry. The next step will be integration with other bears,and it may well be that he and Henry become best buddies.
Only time will tell which bears suit each other for long-term group living, but for now Misa Hai is one step closer to regaining his life -with friends, open space, and only the best of care for the rest of his days.
To find out how Zebedee is doing now click on…. Zebedee Updates.