Freed from her metal “torture vest” – this brown bear has learned to stand tall
25 January 2016
When Caesar was rescued from a Chinese bile farm in 2004, it was after years of being kept in the cruelest conditions possible – imprisoned in a metal jacket.
Like a medieval torture device, it crushed her body while a spike in the jacket poked into her throat – preventing her from biting down and trying to remove the device.
While bear bile farming is still legal in China, these metal jackets are against regulations. They weigh about 10kg, and hold permanent catheters in place to make bile extraction easier.
Caesar is a Eurasian brown bear – one of only two at Animals Asia’s China sanctuary. Her behaviours are very different from the sanctuary’s other bears. She is housed by herself, preferring a more solitary lifestyle as brown bears do in the wild. The most striking difference is her stature – at her winter weight she reaches close to 300kg, making her one of the largest bears in the sanctuary.
Caesar also has one of the finest noses at the China sanctuary. Whether the team buries her food under a pile of leaves, hides it inside a log, wraps it in a parcel of newspaper or even ties it to a rock and throws it into her swimming pool, she will find it – almost immediately.
China Bear and Vet Team Director Nic Field said:
“Caesar was kept in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Once her metal torture vest was removed, she blossomed into a majestic bear.
“From the start, she taught the team a lot about managing Eurasian brown bears versus Asiatic black bears. In her earlier days she lived in our regular bear houses in a separate section to the black bears, but in 2009 she moved into a purpose-built brown bear area – complete with a bunker for snoozing away winter days. She’s lived there happily ever since.
“She’s a beautiful, magnificent lady who’s learned to enjoy her independence – one day of freedom after another.”