A moon bear named Tuffy had a hard start to life. The poor bear spent most of his nine years in a tiny cage at a bile farm. At the farms, workers extract bile from a bear’s gallbladder to use in a traditional medicine. This process is incredibly painful for the bears and it’s detrimental to their health.
After years stuck in this cage, someone finally helped to help Tuffy: an animal rescue organization called Animals Asia.
Animals Asia brought Tuffy to their sanctuary in Vietnam and had a vet check him out.
Tuffy’s gallbladder was so badly damaged it had to be removed. The bear also had three fractured teeth that had to be removed, and his paws were dry, cracked, and painful.
“The cracked paws are common to bile farm bears as they only walk on bars, not grass. Dehydration is likely to have contributed to this too,” Animals Asia Bear Manager Louise Ellis said.
After Tuffy had recovered from his surgery, volunteers at Animals Asia brought him to his new home: a beautiful, big enclosure with a pool for him to splash in.
As soon as Tuffy got to his enclosure, he made a beeline for the pool. The bear had never seen water before, and he was so excited to splash around in it.
The bear swam around the pool and jumped up and down, having an amazing time. The volunteers laughed as they watched him—they were so happy to see the bear enjoying himself.
The volunteers at Animal Asia also learned that Tuffy loved being outside.
He didn’t even return to his den at night—he slept under the stars every night!
“Coming from years of little or no water, for Tuffy this must feel like a true oasis after being parched and in pain for so long,” Louise Ellis said. “It must have felt like such a relief to have the freedom to splash around in the water after only being able to stand on the hard metal bars of the bile farm cage.”
Over the next year, Tuffy regained his strength.
The bear put on weight and continued enjoying his freedom. Once Tuffy was healthy enough, Tuffy went to live in an enclosure with 15 other moon bears who also had tough pasts. Tuffy absolutely loved socializing, and he quickly became one of the leaders of the pack.
“We all adore Tuffy, he is such a playful bear that it is impossible not to fall in love with him. And when he’s having a good day, everybody wants to be his friend,” bear manager Sarah van Herpt said.
There’s also more good news—Animals Asia rescued the last three bile bears in Vietnam. Soon, all of the bears who are stuck in these farms will be moving to sanctuaries. These bears will get to experience the same joy and freedom as Tuffy!
After years stuck in a cage where he barely had room to stand, Tuffy finally has a good place to call home. We’re so glad Tuffy is safe and happy.
If you’d like to see more heartwarming footage of Tuffy in the pool, check out the video below!
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