Staff and volunteers at Animals Asia’s incredible Vietnamese sanctuary for ill and abused bears have been forced to say goodbye to beloved moon bear Simon after his gravely serious health conditions failed to improve.

In May, Simon and fellow moon bear Sam were saved from their desperate lives as captives of a bear bile farm on Ba Mun Island.

The rescue effort was described by Animals Asia as “probably the most difficult (we) would ever perform.”



At that time, Simon had eye problems, open wounds on his back, scarring on his head, and severely injured feet. Founder and CEO Jill Robinson said, “Simon is a bear you can’t help but fall in love with, but his condition is just pitiful. He can barely stand and his teeth were literally falling out of his head. He’s a broken bear that we have to get back to the sanctuary as quickly as possible. There are no guarantees for an animal in his condition.”

It was always going to be a struggle for Simon to get well again … and now, he has sadly lost the fight.


Weng Yan Ng, resident veterinary surgeon with Animals Asia, said, “From first glance it was apparent that Simon had major neurological issues – he was blind, extremely underweight and his left forelimb dragged, causing him to fall over as he spun in circles. … Sadly, it is likely that he had been suffering from a severe infection in his brain for several years prior to his rescue, which unfortunately resulted in permanent change. This meant that even with good nutrition and the best care we could give him, he failed to improve and his neurological signs deteriorated until his quality of life became less than optimal.”

Everyone who knew and loved this gentle bear during his time at the sanctuary is grief-stricken.



Bear Team Supervisor Hoang Van Chien said, “We tried our best to provide the best care in the world in the hope it would help ease (Simon’s) pain. Sometimes, we saw him sitting in the corner near the door facing the green forest outside. Maybe he thought about going out, playing on the green, soft grass under summer rain or just enjoying beautiful sunshine. Perhaps he thought of a place where there is no suffering, no disease – just endless love and happiness. His leaving is an inconsolable grief to all of us. We cannot say anything, but hope he now finally rests in peace.”

While at the sanctuary, Simon was able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life: kindness, tasty food, sunshine and the companionship of his neighbor, sun bear juvenile Goldie. These experiences had been cruelly denied him during his life as a victim of the bear bile trade.

Simon is survived by his friend Sam, who spent many years in a cage next to him. According to the Animals Asia team, she is luckily “growing stronger and progressing well.”


May you rest in peace, beloved Simon. To find out more about Animals Asia’s efforts to protect moon bears, sun bears, and other vulnerable animals, visit their website or Facebook page.

All image source: Animals Asia