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Free the Bears Laos

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When five-month old Kobe arrived at the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, he was traumatised. His mother had been shot and killed by hunters. Kobe had been caught, noosed, bound tightly by all four legs, tied to a length of bamboo and carried through the jungle. He endured being carried around this way for three days as Forest Rangers pursued the hunters. Eventually he was abandoned and found by the Rangers, then saved by Free the Bears.

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"For three months he hid in a log and only came out when he was forced to, to check on his condition," says Michael Brocklehurst, Free the Bears’ Laos programme manager. "He would scream and hit the bars of his enclosure. It was believed that he had been horrifically scarred by the incident."

Bear crash pad. Photo taken in or around Free the Bears Laos, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Bear crash pad. Photo: Cindy Fan

If Kobe hadn’t been rescued, he would have likely ended up in a bear bile farm outside of Laos, sentenced to a lifetime of pain and suffering. In Asia, especially in China and Vietnam, bear bile is used in traditional medicine and bear paw whisky and soup are seen as a status symbol. The methods used to harvest the bile are extremely cruel: they are held in coffin-like cages, completely unable to move, with catheters crudely stuck into their gall bladder so the bile can be regularly extracted. Kobe and the 24 other Asiatic black bears (also known as moon bears) that now call the sanctuary home have been lucky to escape ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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