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Watch Tuffy jump for joy in his first days outside – after being rescued from a bear bile farm where he’d spent years of torture in a tiny cage.
Rescued in September last year on the same day as six other bears, Tuffy’s paws have hardly hit the ground since arriving at Animals Asia's Vietnam sanctuary.
The vet team has been working hard to rehabilitate him after years of having his bile extracted. In fact his gall bladder was so damaged it had to be removed. Examinations had found numerous gallstones, meaning he’d lived in pain for years.
That wasn’t the only surgery Tuffy faced. In addition he had three fractured teeth removed. He also had painful, dry, cracked paws.
Animals Asia Bear Manager Louise Ellis said:
“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. So for his carers to see him take to the pool so quickly after he first became ready to face the outdoors was an amazing moment.“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. 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.”
In fact Tuffy loved being outdoors so much he decided not to return to his den in the evening – choosing instead to sleep under the stars.
There are still around 1,200 bears in bile farms in Vietnam and over 10,000 more in China. Animals Asia has rescued nearly 600 bears from the bile industry and continues to care for almost 400.
Bear bile is used in traditional medicine.