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Our team in Laos were sent on a lengthy rescue mission overnight, driving 12 hours from Luang Prabang to receive a surrendered pet- an adult female Moon bear.
Affectionately named 'Mii Mii', meaning Bear Bear in the local language, she was kept in a very basic wire cage with a cement floor since she was just one-month-old. Like many other victims of the illegal wildlife trade, she was captured by poachers in a nearby plantation and sold for a high price tag.
Our Free the Bears Laos Programme Manager, Rick Passaro, made the extensive journey along treacherous washboard roads to bring her into care. He describes the good intentions of Mii Mii's former owners to surrender the bear.
"The owner, a government official in Luang Namtha Province, received Mii Mii as a celebratory gift when he was promoted. Bears like Mii Mii are often gifted as status symbols for the wealthy. With the owner planning to relocate to another town and no one in his village able to take on her care, he decided to surrender her to authorities. He did not want the animal to die so did not want to sell it to local traders which operate in the area. Our team were a welcome sight when we arrived to relocate Mii Mii to a better life."
Although she had a relatively calm temperament, she was not easily coaxed into her rescue cage for transportation. Our rescue team had to wait over three hours for the bear to move herself into the cage. The owner's wife came home to assist, finally encouraging Mii Mii into the cage with honeyed rice before shedding a few tears as she bid her farewell.
The rescue team then made the long journey back to Luang Prabang overnight in order to ensure the most comfortable temperatures for the bear on the long journey. After arriving at the Free the Bears Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre at 3am the bear was safely unloaded and placed into a comfortable den. She will spend several weeks in quarantine before being introduced to the other bears at Laos' only dedicated bear rescue facility where she will receive world-class care for the remainder of her life.
Mii Mii spent a long time confined to a small concrete pen, the physical damage may not present itself until we have had time to conduct a proper health check. The mental damage however is evident. She is displaying stereotypical behaviours of a captive bear such as head twirling. Since arriving at the sanctuary, she has been eating and drinking and we hope in time that she will have every chance to enjoy her new life.
Mii Mii is rescue #32 for our Laos facility. Help is needed to brighten up the lives of rescued bears like Mii Mii with a Virtual Gift- they do make the world of difference. Click here to make your purchase today.