The most content bear in the world didn’t realise she was being watched
After rescue from a bile farm, the bashful smile on moon bear Leika’s face when she realises she’s not alone is priceless.
When Leika was stuck in a tiny cage on a Vietnamese bear bile farm, she must have thought she would never leave.
Everyday was spent trying to chew through iron bars, eating slop and hoping today would not be yet another day when her abdomen would be punctured and her bile extracted for use in traditional medicine.
She must have dreamt of days like these of peace and play and the open sky above her.
That all became possible when she rescued, and soon her life was transformed utterly – from never-ending darkness and pain, to the bright sunshine of outdoors.
On a blisteringly hot summer’s day in 2008, Leika arrived at Animals Asia’s then newly opened bear rescue centre.
She was just the 15th bear to arrive at the sanctuary which is now home to 160 moon and sun bears rescued from the illegal wildlife trade and the vile bear bile industry.
Ever since she arrived, she has been cared for by Animals Asia’s staff. Her gall bladder – ravaged by bile extraction – has been surgically removed and every day she has fresh fruit and vegetables to eat, which she finds by foraging in her outdoor enclosure.
This green space is filled with a variety of structures to keep her healthy physically and mentally. It is also home to a community of bears with whom Leika shares her life. They play, wrestle, swim and even sleep together. They are fellow survivors of the unimaginably cruel bear bile industry and they face a life after torment together.
Animals Asia Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt said:
“Leika is a real mischief-maker among her group and I’m getting used to seeing her outside enjoying herself. But when I saw her on the swing with the sack I couldn’t help myself and quickly grabbed my camera. She was completely in her own world and didn’t seem to notice me there watching her having a little bit of moon bear me time.”
Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:
“I love seeing Leika relaxing on her swing with her sack – a carefree, joyous bear, which is exactly what she deserves after all she suffered. This is the image we wish for every single farmed bear – a world of silliness and contentment. Whatever works for you, Leika – have fun!”.