When Bao Lam, a beautiful moon bear rescued in August 2016 by the organization Animals Asia, was first brought to her new home at a sanctuary, she was plagued with ailments that made her seem much older than her actual age. She had arthritis in her legs, cataracts in both eyes, rotten teeth, and signs of chronic high blood pressure. Found at at the Dambri Resort in central Vietnam, she was curled up in a corner of a shed, afraid of what was to come next. But what actually did come, even though she could not know that yet, was the start of a completely new life, one in which she would finally be respected – and simply happy.

Bao Lam was meant to become a dancing bear exploited for human entertainment. But when that plan fell through, the bears were left abandoned in a corner of the resort, caged in conditions so abhorrent that the animals began to die from disease, starvation, and neglect. Eventually, it was just Bao Lam that was left alive…


Once Bao Lam arrived at the sanctuary, her painful teeth were immediately removed and she was prescribed medication for her high blood pressure. She got a heap of banana leaves for nesting and lots of watermelon slices to eat.

It did not take long for the bear to show her playful and curious nature once she was gently encouraged. She began to experience things she had been denied for all her life – like something so simple as splashing water around!

“Bao Lam fast asleep in the enclosure outside is a particularly wonderful sight,” said Animals Asia Bear Manager Louise Ellis. “It says she is no longer haunted by what she has had to endure, she is utterly content. It also says she has regained some trust and faith in us humans that we will always protect and care for her.”

As her rescuers report, Bao Lam loves being active, rolling around on her back, balancing leaves on her paws, chewing logs, and shredding palm leaves. She has a spring in her step now, climbs in and out of baskets, and explores all the terrain she can. Her favorite spot, however, is a tractor tire – in the middle of which she sits down to relax.

Another entirely new thing in her life is friendship. Although hesitant at first, she has slowly become relaxed in the company of other rescued moon bears – and has grown to be very good friends with Sindy, a bear she now often shares a den with.

With every passing week, the bear’s physical health has improved more and more. Having a lot of space at her disposal and breathing fresh mountain air, she had finally built up her strength and coordination so severely depleted in captivity. It is incredible to see just how changed Bao Lam is now – and how comfortable she can finally be!


“Bao Lam has the softest of eyes and an endearing habit of pinning her ears back against her head when offered treats, which makes her even more adorable,” said Heidi Quine, Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director. “Despite her various ailments, she has shown a great appetite for life, playing, exploring, foraging and doing things happy bears do.”

Although the past was shockingly cruel for this graceful animal, Bao Lam now has nothing to fear of the future. Under the vigilant professional care of her guardians at the sanctuary, she managed to recover and learn that life does not have to mean suffering at the hands of humans. Now, she is finally discovering the joys of simply being a bear.


To learn more about Animals Asia, click here.

All image source: Animals Asia/Flickr