Meet Smudge. She’s a baby bear. This little cutie was the youngest bear cub to be rescued by Animals Asia from the Nanning Bear Farm. What’s a bear farm you ask? What can you possibly harvest from a bear that’s worth farming?

Well, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bear bile is believed to have medicinal properties. In TCM, bear bile is considered a cure for various liver diseases, the common cold, and even tapeworms. On these bear bile farms, the bile is collected from the bears in an inhumane and painful procedure, where the bear is confined in a tiny cage and a catheter is implanted in its gallbladder to drain the bile.

There are thousands of bear bile farms across China, and many of the bears kept in those farms were illegally caught in the wild as cubs. While hunting these bears is illegal in China, due to the species’ endangered status, the government allows the breeding and farming of these animals in captivity, despite the cruelty involved.

Animals Asia is devoted to ending this practice in China, and is currently converting the Nanning Bear Farm into an animal sanctuary. It is a long and laborious process.

Upon taking over the facility, the veterinarians of Animals Asia were faced with a daunting task. The bears living there suffered from rotting paws and teeth that had been previously cut back to the bone. They had been declawed at the fingertips, and suffered such extreme dental issues that there was nothing left but pulp and bone.

The vets worked seven hour shifts for three days straight. Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson had this to say: “They are an incredible team and they and the bears deserve the very best facilities available. The fact that, in this case, they cheerfully made do with such basic conditions is to their never ending credit. These bears have been given new lives and we’re grateful that a bear farmer has not only allowed this to happen, but has encouraged it too.  As the bears’ lives slowly improve due to surgery, better diets and professional care – a new sanctuary will evolve around them. We’ll give them all that we can.”

Four-month-old Smudge will be the first bear cub at the new sanctuary to enjoy their enrichment program. She has her own paddling pool, teddy bear, and climbing frame to play with, and a nice straw bed to sleep in.

Smudge is the last bear that will ever be bred in captivity on the site. Born in a place of misery, things are only looking up for her. She and the rest of Nanning’s bears have a bright future ahead, thanks to the people of Animals Asia.

Image source:  Animals Asia/Youtube