“We are beyond devastated to tell you that our Paddington bear, whose story inspired so many across the world, has tragically lost her fight to live,” animal welfare organization Animals Asia said on Wednesday.
Animals Asia rescued the female moon bear Paddington from a bear bile farm in Nam Dinh province in Vietnam, where she had been living in a tiny cage for the last 17 years. Bear bile extraction is a painful process of ‘milking’ a bear’s liver; bears are often kept in tiny cages.
After her rescue, veterinarians discovered she was suffering from a range of severe health conditions as a result of her imprisonment and experiences on the bear bile farm. To extract bile from bears, the animals’ skin is cut, and a tube is inserted in their gallbladder. It leaves bears scarred and in terrible pain.
Paddington was put under intensive monitoring in a quarantine area, where every rescued bear spends their first thirty days, Animals Asia said.
After two weeks, carers saw that Paddington couldn’t get up. She was rushed to an on-site bear hospital, and veterinarians determined that she had brain issues. Two hours later, she stopped breathing.
“The trauma and the suffering of bears on farms are unimaginable. 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,” said Heidi Quine, bear and vet team department director at Animals Asia.
The post-mortem and initial lab report showed that Paddington suffered from brain swelling.
“Saving the life of an animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal,” bear team manager Amy Saunders said during a memorial for Paddington. “You were such a special bear, your life mattered so much, and you’ll be with us forever. Rest easy now, sweet girl.”
In May, Animals Asia announced it’s building a bear sanctuary for remaining 310 bile bears in Vietnam. Bear bile farming was declared illegal in 1997 in Vietnam. Since then, Animals Asia has been rescuing the remaining bears on bile farms.