Bile Bear Found Rocking Back and Forth Rescued After 17 Years of Abuse

A bile bear found rocking back and forth on a farm in Vietnam has been rescued after 17 years of abuse.

Rescuers from Animals Asia were first alerted about the animal by the Forest Protection Department in Nam Dinh province, the Hong Kong-based charity said in a press release. Rescuers made a four-hour trip to the bile farm to find the female moon bear, now named Paddington, trapped in a tiny cage.

The farmer originally bought Paddington in 2005 from a wildlife trafficker. The bear had spent 17 years on the farm and was used for bile extraction.

Bear bile is scientifically proven to help dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease. It is also sold commercially and marketed as a cure for cancer, colds and hangovers, but there is no scientific evidence that it cures these ailments. Bear bile farming is illegal in Vietnam but is still practiced in several regions. More than half of Vietnam's bears are kept on farms.

Rescuers found Paddington's cage in a dark annex in a garden at the farm, where she was seen rocking back and forth. According to Animals Asia, this is typical behavior often exhibited by traumatized bile bears.

Bile bear rescue
Paddington is pictured behind bars at a bile farm in Vietnam. She had been kept there for 17 years. Animals Asia

Paddington was sedated while veterinarians took an initial health assessment. The bear was found to have dental problems, as she had been chewing on the bars of her cage for years. This is also a common behavior among bile bears.

The farmer gave up the bear willingly. He told Animals Asia his "only wish was to see the bear living the rest of her life as a bear should be."

Paddington was transported to the Animals Asia sanctuary in the Tam Dao district. After she arrived, rescuers found she had a good appetite. She was eating snacks such as banana leaves, carrots, tomatoes, apples and pumpkins. She will be carefully monitored for 30 days before she is acquainted with the other bears in the sanctuary.

Bile bear rescue
Paddington is seen enjoying some jam after arriving at a sanctuary after being rescued from the bile farm. Animals Asia

Bile is extracted from bears by pushing a steel or perspex catheter through the bear's abdomen and into the gallbladder. This can be extremely painful for the animal. They are often sedated with ketamine or restrained with ropes during the process. This can cause infections, starvation, dehydration and other ailments. Thousands of bears are still kept on bile farms in Asian counties, including China, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, although there are cruelty-free medical alternatives to the bile.

This past February, animal welfare charity Four Paws rescued nine bile bears that had spent their lives in cages. The teams arrived at the farm to find several of the bears emaciated and weighing only about 110 pounds.

Bile bear rescue
Paddington is transported by Animals Asia workers to a sanctuary. Animals Asia