Tu Do in the cage she was kept

Dec 2021

Ninh Binh

Rescue Bear Tu Do

The last bile bear in Son La province is finally rescued


Since she was just a cub, poor Tu Do has been kept in a small cage. For over 20 years, the female Asiatic black bear has been abused for her bile on a bile bear farm. With metal bars under her feet, barely enough space to move and no way to occupy herself, Tu Do has suffered terribly. Fortunately the owner of Tu Do decided to hand her over voluntarily to us!

The 50th bear rescued in Vietnam

On December 11th, our experienced team was able to rescue the bear and transport her to BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Tu Do, whose name means freedom in Vietnamese, is the 40th resident of the sanctuary, and the 50th bear rescued by FOUR PAWS in Vietnam. 

The rescue of bear Tu Do highlights a special success, as she was the last one of her kind in Son La province. Finally, another province is bile bear farm free and no bears in this province have to suffer anymore from the horrible keeping and cruel and painful procedure of removing bile.

A new life begins

Luckily, the rescue mission of Tu Do went smoothly and without any problems. Tu Do was very relaxed and friendly despite there being a lot of people present, especially from neighbours who eagerly watched the rescue. Following a 6 hour drive, the team arrived at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. After three weeks in quarantine, Tu Do was released to the bear house. Soon she will get access to one of the big outdoor enclosures in the sanctuary and roam around freely. Maybe she will even make friends with one or more of the resident bears in the future. 

Her health check during the rescue also went smoothly and as expected the bear does have some dental issues from only being fed soft soup. Like many of the other rescued bile bears, she has some papillomas on her right elbow, gallstones, and moderate chronic liver disease.

Curious and playful

The team describes Tu Do as an absolute sweetheart. She eats all her food, loves to be showered and takes also her medication without any problems. Tu Do really loves to play with the enrichment she is given. She especially has enjoyed playing with the rattle toys for a long time, tearing up some hessian bags, and then she has even made a nice nest of straw, banana leaf and hessian bags and relaxed in it seeming very content. 

After mainly being fed rice soup for her whole life, Tu Do now slowly gets to try many different foods. She already loves dog food, raw pumpkin, cucumber, peanuts, rice soup, chestnuts and corn. She was given a whole coconut which she loved and spent a long time tearing it apart piece by piece. She knew exactly what to do, often at first the bears have no idea about coconuts and the caretakers would have to break them open for them, but Tu Do is an expert right away!

Update: July 2023

Rest in Peace, Tu Do

She collapsed suddenly within the enclosure, and despite our dedicated efforts, we were unable to save her. Merely an hour before, Tu Do was foraging in her usual manner for lunch. Tu Do was on long term medication for hypertension, and evidence suggests her death was due to her heart.

It was always a pleasure, and a relief, to watch her relaxing outside, often playing with a stick on the platform, knowing she finally felt comfortable enough to do so after all that she had endured. Eighteen months with us was far too short a time and we will miss Tu Do dearly.

Bile bear behind metal bars

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