Looking at them now, it’s heartwarming to see how far they’ve come.
Just a year ago, the two moon bears, Ant and Kham, were so weak that they couldn’t even manage to lift their heads. And today, they’re so happy in all their cubbish cuteness.
The wild creatures were kept as pets, locked in a small cage at a construction site located in Laos. For a long time, they were abandoned and neglected, so much so that their bodies were abnormally skinny, with their furls limping over their silhouettes. They were almost starved and prisoned to death.
Fortunately, Free The Bears were informed of this monstrosity and they stepped in before the siblings were put under any more harm. The two were rescued last February and it was only after they were brought to safety that the authorities finally found out what was really happening to them.
“We were told that they had only ever been fed bananas,” Rod Mabin, communications manager for Free The Bears, said. “Both bears were very skinny, lethargic and very small for their age, closer to the size of 6- to 9-month-old cubs despite being 2 to 3 years old. Their fur should have been a rich and thick black coat.”
Their severe malnutrition was slowly treated once they were brought to the rescue shelter. They were looked for in the quarantine ward and were fed with nutritious meals.
Within a few weeks, the difference could be seen. With proper diet, medicine and places where they could move around, the cubs were looking more like bears. They grew in such an astonishing way that the staff even thought of introducing them to others of their family.
“They were slowly introduced to a balanced diet and quickly gained weight, muscle mass and confidence,” Mabin said. “When introduced to a 2-year-old cub, they were wary at first, however soon became friends. The playful cub helped bring them out of their shells even more.”
In the months after their arrival at the shelter, Ant and Kham discovered a whole new world full of different views and toys.
Living a life of scarcity and neglect made them even more curious about the things that surrounded them. Now that they were free to explore, they were so much happier! And the change can be seen physically too. Their hair is thicker now, and hopefully, slowly, they will be able to grow a full coat.
“Now that they are on the path to recovery, they like to do what all bear cubs love — climbing, wrestling, play fighting, eating and sleeping,” Mabin said. “Ant loves to nap in his hammock. The two remain very close and we’ll often see them napping together.”
The one year difference between the siblings when they were first rescued and the way they are today is nothing short of astonishing. Today, they can socialize with other youngsters in the family. Hopefully, they can be brought into an even larger forest home this year with the help of the staff.
Lord knows they deserve it all. All the happiness and comfort.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to see these two beautiful bears bounce back from near death,” Mabin said. “Ant and Kham will need lifelong care at our sanctuaries, which can last up to 40 years. They’re not only an inspiration for everyone associated with Free the Bears, they also inspire the many thousands of visitors who pass through [our rescue centre], helping to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and wildlife conservation issues.”
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