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The story of "Shamrock" was written by the Moon Bear Sanctuary, with some minor editing by Shamrock's Xiao Fei.

The serene sanctuary of the Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, was pierced by the echoing sounds of fear and pain, as six distressed bears from an illegal bear bile farm arrived on the back of a truck.
Still in the cages that had trapped them for years, as they suffered the agony of bile extraction day after day, they had managed to survive against the odds and now faced a new challenge, their anxious moans and angry roars reflected their suffering and mistrust. The bears showed signs of psychological distress - bar biting, head swaying, lashing out - and obvious physical injuries.

One of the first to be unloaded that afternoon, Shamrock was a terrible, sad sight - her features obscured by filth and blood dripping from an injured paw. As Monica, one of the sanctuary vets got close, Shamrock became upset and growled aggressively. She bounced around her small cage, swiping out, roaring and swinging from the bars, her actions stoked by utter fear - fear of the unknown and without doubt a deep-seated fear of humans.

Shamrock outside after years of confinement in a cage no bigger than her body. 2014

Eventually Shamrock was able to be soothed enough to accept some food - a small peace offering for all the hurt inflicted on her over the years.
With the end of the day fast approaching, too weak and sick to endure the anesthesia required to remove them from their cages, Shamrock would have to endure one more night in her rusting farm cage. Tonight though, she would at least have a soft bed of warm straw and food and water to comfort her.
The next day, Shamrock was anaesthetized in her farm cage and gently removed from it forever and the cage consigned to the sanctuary's "cage graveyard", where they stand as a reminder of all the bears rescued and their brothers and sisters who still endure the agony of bear bile farming.

Shamrock's health check revealed wounds under the dirt covering her face, most likely caused by head rubbing against her cage bars - a typical stress reaction from animals kept in poor captive conditions. Her teeth were in terrible condition and must have been causing her pain, with many rotten and broken from bar biting. She also had severe hyperkeratotic paw pads - dry and brittle from years of dehydration and confinement.
With her initial check over, Shamrock was scheduled for surgery to remove her gall bladder and take care of her painful dental issues.

Over the next few weeks Shamrock was transformed from the aggressive, frightened little bear that arrived at the sanctuary, into a charming and somewhat composed individual.


Bear in a crush cage, anaesthetised to enable removal unable to move and in agony, this cage would have housed him for years.

After years of confinement, in a small cage in a darkened shed, under-stimulated and undernourished, Shamrock was a curious bear who loved her food, and hoovered up everything - even the food the other bears were not keen about.
With browse and enrichment toys to stimulate this intelligent bear, Shamrock settled in and went smoothly through her quarantine and subsequent surgeries. Shamrock's gall bladder surgery went well, with the vet team removing a "moderately enlarged, red and angry" organ. Inside there were many polyps and cysts which would have made poor Shamrock's life very painful indeed.
Major dental surgery was carried out to sort out her very damaged teeth, including all four K9s. Other teeth had strange staining that staff had seen on bears before and may be associated with inappropriate antibiotic use.
In March, Shamrock made the successful switch to a spacious bear den - the last step in her rehabilitation before she would enjoy the freedom of going outside for the first time.

Each step is a major readjustment for bears like Shamrock who have been confined to small spaces for a very long time. They are often nervous leaving their recovery cages and it takes them time to adjust to open space.
Shamrock's recovery cage was secured to the den and the door slowly opened. With only a little hesitation, Shamrock stepped gingerly out of her cage and into this great, new space. Taking things in her stride again, she calmly moved around the den sniffing out the hidden food and generally getting a feel for her new home. Satisfied that there was nothing to fear, her next step was to go upwards - climbing into her new hanging basket bed and stretching tall to check out her neighbors along the hall.

In early May, it was time to move ahead with the next step of her rehabilitation - release into the outdoor enclosures. For the first time, Shamrock could step outside for her first glimpse of sunshine in many years.

Within weeks, Shamrock was sharing the enclosure with her neighbor Peter, happy in the company of a fellow-bear who at first sight, quietly deferred to Shamrock's more feisty and somewhat braver character.

Shamrock (front) and new pal Peter.

Since their first meetings however, Peter has stolen Shamrock's heart and they have become solid friends. Shamrock and Peter interact in the way all newly integrated bears ideally would - lots of play behavior, chasing, wrestling, and general joy.
After starting life on a bear farm, Shamrock deserves all the joy she can get - has so many glorius years of life ahead of her, safe and secure with her new bear family.

Animals Asia’s approach for this project is worthy of mention.

To achieve the outcome of cessation of bear farming in China, they initially signed an agreement with the China Central Government to issue no more bear farming licenses enforceable across all provinces. They then set about encouraging bear farms to find alternate activities and help convince them by purchasing their bear farming licenses. They built a centre to help these newly freed bears. To change attitudes they enlisted the support of leading Chinese doctors and the Traditional Chinese Medicine Associations across the world to reject bear bile as a source of UDCA.

They operate campaigns in schools & universities in China to educate people about the cruelty and complete in-necessity of this industry. The local community is involved through employment & commerce.

They have created momentum for this outstanding cause by delivering win-win-win solutions, not problems.

Free at last, this moon bear will live out the last years of life finally free of the horror of the bear bile farm.

Animals Asia Foundation

The Animals Asia Foundation, managed by professionals, resident in Asia, is committed to forging constructive solutions to the seemingly insurmountable problems which the animals face in today's changing environment.

Animals Asia Foundation is a Hong Kong-based government-registered animal welfare charity founded by Jill Robinson MBE in 1998. It also has charitable status in the UK, USA and Germany with donations being tax-deductible in these countries. It is a registered non-profit organization in Australia and has additional offices in New Zealand and China.

For mor information, please visit the
Animals Asia Foundation web site here



Rescued bears brought to the sanctuary outside Chengdu in their farm cages.

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