Santa Claus bracht kleurijke dozen met ingepakte lekkernij naar 370 geredde beren uit de berengalindustrie
Santa Claus came to town early this year, leaving a trail of carefully wrapped presents and lovingly made painted pinatas for our bears - assisted by an army of Animals Asia elves who decorated pine trees and helped to hide the gifts from prying noses.
Weeks in the planning, the Christmas celebrations are a chance to really spoil bears who have suffered a lifetime of agony in farms in Vietnam and China where their bile has been extracted - or else have been poached from the wild and trafficked for their parts.
First out of their dens in Vietnam were Bazan and Wendles, who headed straight to their grassy enclosure with the confidence of bears who have been with us for years and not just eight months.
This lovable duo spent a decade caged side-by-side before being rescued from a bile farm in April. Now they can finally play together, they rarely leave each other’s side - even more so when there are treats to be had.
Not far behind were youngsters Wilf and Elsie who seemed a bit apprehensive about venturing out into the cold misty mountain air but they soon plucked up the courage once they realised the goodies were fast disappearing.
Milagro clearly thought the entire spread had been laid out especially for him and hoovered up six jam tarts in as many minutes while cubs Layla, Goldie, Murphy, Sassy and Annemarie had the time of their lives, clambering over wooden frames and smashing the Christmas pinatas which left blue, green and yellow marks on each of their little inquisitive noses.
There was as much excitement in China where long-limbed Delaney quickly claimed presents that were out of reach of other bears.
Poppy put up a robust defence of her parcel from Frank who was “only having a look” while conjuring a way to separate bear from goodie. It didn’t take him long to come up with a devastatingly masterful move, in which he lured Poppy away for a few seconds before snaffling the remainder of her treats.
Next door Stardust got grumpy and threw a small Christmas tantrum which landed him with three wrapped presents. Minutes later he was off playing with best friend Mandela - and harmony reigned once more.
Animals Asia Founder and CEO Jill Robinson MBE said:
“There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the chaos left in the wake of the bears’ Christmas party - broken pinatas, half-eaten jam tarts, wrapping paper in shreds. To us, every bear is a cherished member of the family and Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones and showing you care with gifts and treats.
“On the day there was drama, excitement and games - something our wonderful supporters will recognise from their own celebrations. But most of all, love.”
Over the past 19 years, Animals Asia has rescued more than 600 bears mostly from farms where their bile is extracted for use in traditional medicine.
More than 370 rescued bears are living out their days at Animals Asia sanctuaries where they receive everything they were denied in captivity - a balanced and nutritious diet, medical treatment and a large semi-wild outdoor space to explore and forage in.
This year the charity signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding with the Vietnamese government in which it agreed to rescue the remaining 1,000 or so bears believed to be still living on bile farms within the next five years.