Tuffy is one happy bear, and who can blame him. After years of suffering in a cage, he's finally able to jump and splash around in his rescue center's bathing pool.
Tuffy was rescued last September along with six other bears from a bear “bile farm” in Vietnam. When discovered, he was suffering from numerous painful gallstones, fractured teeth and cracked paws from years of living in a cage and forced extraction of bile from his gall bladder.
It’s taken vets months of rehabilitation, but earlier this month he was taken to Animals Asia’s Tam Dao rescue center. Judging by the video of him at the center (below), things are looking good.
Louise Ellis, Animals Asia's bear manager, said in press release: “Coming from years of little or no water, for Tuffy this must feel like a true oasis after being parched and in pain for so long. It must have felt like such a relief to have the freedom to splash around in the water after only being able to stand on the hard metal bars of the bile farm cage.”
Around 12,000 bears are kept in bile farms in China and Vietnam. Although Asiatic black bears are the most commonly used, some farmers also use sun bears or brown bears.
Their bile is used in traditional medicine as a cure for everything from hemorrhoids to hangovers, despite scrutiny from the scientific and medical community. Most of the bears are permanently caged for their entire lives, while bile is extracted, often through a permanent catheter drilled through the bear's abdomen into their gallbladder.