Tuffy the moon bear had a rough life.
The poor bear spent most of his nine years in a tiny cage at a bile farm. At these farms, workers extract bile directly from the bears’ gallbladder to use in traditional medicine. This process is incredibly painful, and it requires the bears being strapped into a ‘torture vest.’
After years of torture, Tuffy was finally rescued by Animals Asia.
They brought him 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—the Vietnamese government announced that bear bile farming will be completely eradicated in the country by 2020. 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 nine years of living in a small cage, Tuffy now has a great place to call home. If you want to see more footage of Tuffy enjoying himself in the pool, check out the video below!
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Source: Animals Asia