Although bears are often portrayed as mean, vicious animals, the truth is that most wild bears are quite shy and fearful of people. Sadly, because of this, bear cubs are frequently captured from the wild, to be sold on the black market as pets, food or used for ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This exactly what happened to Joe, a young black bear who was most likely bought as a cub at one Laos’ many illegal wildlife markets.

Although Joe’s story started out about as bad as it can get, his original owners had a change of heart and donated him to a temple, where instead of being sentenced to a life in a circus or tortured for his bile, he was tended to by monks.


The problem is, that bears don’t belong in living in cages, even if that cage is inside of a monastery. Eventually, the wire mesh began to hurt his paws, causing him a great deal of pain. Here he is, trying to keep himself away from the painful wires.

Without enough knowledge or proper funding to care for Joe, the monks were feeding him a diet that was very high in sugary sweets. Here are some of the junk food wrappers that were piling up, underneath of his cage.

It soon became apparent that Joe would need a new, bear appropriate home, which is where the good people at the Laos Wildlife Rescue Center came in. Below is a photo of the monastery signing to release Joe.

Joe watches nervously as the team prepares for his big journey.

 Here he is stepping outside of his cage for the first time in his life. Look at how he seems to be smiling! Freedom feels so good!

After a few weeks in their quarantine facility, Joe will be able to venture outside and explore his new surroundings. He will even be free to make friends with the other bears living there, which were also rescued by this wonderful organization. If you would like to help to support the Lao Wildlife Rescue Center in their care of animals like Joe, you can visit their Facebook page here.

All image source: Lao Wildlife Rescue Center/Facebook