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Paddington the Rescue Bear Dies at Vietnam Sanctuary Weeks After Leaving Neglectful Bile Farm

Paddington the moon bear likely spent 17 years stuck in a cage at a bear bile farm in Vietnam before her Animals Asia rescue

Animals Asia is remembering its beloved rescue bear Paddington.

The animal welfare organization, working with Vietnamese authorities, saved the moon bear — also called an Asian black bear — from an “inhumane” bear bile farm near Nam Dinh, Vietnam, on Sept. 22.

Bear bile farms often keep moon bears captive in small spaces to extract the animals’ bile for use in traditional eastern medicines. The practice is now illegal in Vietnam, but many bear bile farmers have kept their animals due to legal loopholes in the ban. Through their partnership, Animals Asia and the Vietnam authorities have reached hundreds of bear bile farmers and worked with them to surrender their animals.

After rescuing Paddington from a small metal cage, where she likely had spent the past 17 years of her life, Animals Asia transported the bear to its sanctuary in Tam Do, Vietnam.

Upon arriving at the sanctuary, Paddington was treated to marmalade — a favorite of the fictional bear she is named after — and visited with veterinarians.

“The organization’s expert bear team identified long-standing health issues and put Paddington under intensive monitoring in the quarantine area, where every rescued bear spends their first 30 days,” Animals Asia shared about Paddington’s condition when she arrived at the sanctuary.

On Oct. 6, Paddington started acting alarmingly. The bear’s caretakers observed the animal “trying to get up but falling back, and seemingly unaware of her surroundings.” After this incident, fearing the bear might have had a stroke, Animals Asia rushed Paddington to its bear hospital for a thorough examination.

Veterinarians performed dental, abdominal, x-ray, and ultrasound scans on the bear and administered medication for pain relief. Before the organization could provide more care, Paddington stopped breathing. Resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.

“The trauma and the suffering of bears on farms are unimaginable. I don’t want to see this happen again. We have to get the bears out of the farms as quickly as we can. I will never forget the feeling of performing CPR on Paddington, those chest compressions… The team and I fought for her life just as hard as she did. I don’t ever want to do that again,” Heidi Quine, Animals Asia’s vet team department director, shared.

Paddington’s post-mortem exam showed brain inflammation and bleeding, but Animals Asia’s veterinary team is waiting for additional lab results to determine the bear’s official cause of death.

According to the organization, moon bears that spend years on bile farms enduring painful extractions can suffer from “high blood pressure, low mobility, joint and dental problems, malnutrition, malignant tumors, and serious issues concerning their livers and bile.” Unfortunately, these health problems can be fatal for the rescue bears.

Animals Asia is mourning Paddington’s death but is grateful they were able to provide the bear with several weeks of freedom and dedicated care. The organization hopes that the animal’s story inspires others to help bears like Paddington and shows that every creature deserves a chance at a happy life.

“She led a life on the farm without even the dignity of a name. And then, with the help of our supporters around the world, we were able to save her, name her, care for her,” Animals Asia’s founder and CEO Jill Robinson said in a statement.

“Her loss is tragic to us all, but it is also crucial to make the world aware of the cruelty and devastation that bear bile farming causes. As the industry in Vietnam comes to an end, we are racing to save every suffering bear before it is too late,” she added.