22 Asiatic black bears had spent their entire lives locked in small metal cages at a South Korean breeding farm. In this horrific place, not only were they prisoners, but their gallbladders and bile were harvested and marketed as cures for sore throats, cancer, and more recently, as a coronavirus treatment.

“They lived in the most horrific conditions you can imagine,” said Pat Craig, founder and executive director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary in southeastern Colorado.

In this video, you can see one of the 22 Moon Bears at The Wild Animal Refuge Sanctuary who was recently rescued from South Korea. She is walking freely for the first time in her life!

“This female Moon Bear (Asiatic Black Bear) was kept inside a 5′ x 8′ steel rebar cage her entire life while living at a Bile Bear Farm in South Korea. Having never walked on real ground or grass before, she lifts her feet high with each step and spreads her feet apart in an attempt to find the proper way to walk when steel bars are no longer beneath her feet. The new scents of real dirt, plants, and other fragrances are clearly overwhelming as she begins to navigate her new home,” Wild Animal Sanctuary said in an Instagram post.

In mid-March, Craig’s nonprofit organization rescued the bears, nicknamed “moon bears” for the yellow crescent-shaped markings on their chests. Craig transported them to Colorado, where they can now happily live out the rest of their lives and roam as they please.

“To see them finally free and playing in grass for the first time was really rewarding,” said Craig. “You can tell the bears are happy now,” he added. “They’re able to explore 243 forested [fenced-in] acres, play in the water and act like normal bears.”

Asiatic Black Bears are listed by the IUCN’s Red List as a species that is endangered in its natural environment, so nonprofit organizations and sanctuaries play an integral role in continuing their longevity.

This Asiatic Black Bear “Moon Bear” pictured above was rescued from a bile farm in South Korea and is now enjoying his freedom at The Wild Animal Refuge.

Dillan, the Asiatic Black Bear enjoying a nice dip in his pool this morning. “He loves to swim while making bubbles with his nose underwater,” said Wild Animal Sanctuary in an Instagram post.

Now that the sanctuary’s newest residents are rolling around in the dirt and exploring fragrant woods for the first time, Craig said he hopes to rescue more moon bears soon.

“They’re beautiful animals, and they deserve to be free and enjoy life,” said Craig. “I’d love to help even more of them to enjoy that feeling of wild grass under their feet for the first time.”

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