Meeting Polly Bear

Pollyanna and Anna-Louise found the Vietnamese town of Tam Dao unlike any place they have ever visited. At 1,100m above sea level, it sits on the steep upper slopes of a mountain, enveloped in cloud for most of the year.

Driving up the narrow twisty road into the swirling mists feels like driving to a hidden kingdom in a fairy story - the land at the top of the beanstalk. Tall narrow buildings in confectionary colours are clustered together on the steep slopes.

Occasionally the clouds part and the three peaks which give the area its name become visible - densely covered in vegetation, so thick it appears as a tangled black mass. Then another cloud will rise up the mountainside, wisps of mist curling up the slopes until the landscape again vanishes. Everything there is saturated. The blankets on Pollyanna’s small wooden beds in the hill station felt soggy, and the wooden doors were slick with a layer of condensation. The communities living lower on the mountainside rarely see Tam Dao - just occasionally when the clouds lift it appears like a mirage on the mountain top.

The intrepid pair were visiting Tam Dao as it is the closest town to the Animals Asia Sanctuary where they hoped to meet Polly, one of the resident moon bears. The Pollyanna Pickering Foundation was able to fund Polly's rescue from an illegal bile farm in the southern province of Binh Duong, near Ho Chi Minh City, and with the help of our supporters, continues to fund Polly's ongoing care at the sanctuary. Pollyanna was able to be part of Polly bear's story from the very beginning – news of 14 bears awaiting rescue in Vietnam came through while Pollyanna was sitting having a cup if tea with Jill Robinson, the founder of Animals Asia in their sanctuary in China. Through the Foundation Pollyanna was able to provide funding for the rescue of one of the bears – and able to follow the details of the rescue and Polly's journey every step of the way.

“Having seen the images of the dark claustrophobic shipping containers where Polly had been living on the bile farm, and knowing of the unbelievable agony he must have suffered during the bile extractions, it was just amazing to finally come face to face with 'our' bear, and see him looking so happy, healthy and relaxed” Pollyanna commented.

When Pollyanna arrived, Polly was reclining in his favourite hammock – but he sat up to have a good look at his visitor, before stretching and then settling back for another doze. “It was a very emotional moment seeing Polly” Pollyanna said “I truly believe that of all the pain and cruelty humans inflict on animals, the farming of bears for bile has to be the worst. I am so grateful that through the incredible work carried out by Animals Asia, my Foundation and all our supporters have been able to give this beautiful bear the opportunity to live out the rest of his life in peace and comfort, free from pain and abuse.”

Pollyanna also saw the wonderful new enclosure which will become the new home for a group of bears, including Polly. Nestled in the valley below Tam Dao is the “sunshine house” a large area featuring trees, rocks and ponds. Construction is due to be completed in the next few weeks after which Polly will be introduced into his new home.

The Foundation was delighted to be able to present senior vet Tuan Ben Dixsen (centre) with a further cheque for £2,250 – this money will fund Polly's care for the coming 12 months, and also includes a contribution of £1000 towards the building of the Sunshine house.

The Founder of Animals Asia Jill Robinson arranged to visit the Vietnam sanctuary at the same time as Pollyanna, and presented Pollyanna with the most wonderful souvenir of her visit – a paw print made by Polly bear (above)!

We are very proud, with your help, to have been able to rescue Polly Bear from a life of misery and bring him to the wonderful surroundings of the
Animals Asia sanctuary. Click Here to Befriend Polly Bear

We now want to commit to continue supporting Polly, and to fund his care at the sanctuary for the rest of his life. It costs £1100.00 to feed and care for a bear each year, and with your help, we want to be able to provide at least this amount annually.

We are offering Foundation supporters the chance to Become a Friend of Polly Bear, and help pay for his ongoing care, including food, medical care and just as importantly his ongoing enrichment programme, which will provide Polly with special treats to keep him happy and occupied – treats like fruit ice blocks, rubber kongs, honey, raisins and tofu-filled bamboo shoots – all of which will keep him stimulated and occupied for hours!

For a minimum donation of £35.00 you can befriend Polly Bear for one year. As a thankyou you will receive a personalised friendship certificate including a photo of Polly and twice yearly updates on his progress, along with a bookmark and a set of four greetings cards featuring different bears of the world painted by Pollyanna. Most excitingly everyone who befriends Polly bear will be entered into a prize draw to win a signed limited edition of Pollyanna’s sketch of a moonbear (above). This print is strictly limited to just 100 copies. Every time just ten friendship packages have been bought, one lucky winner will be drawn, and will receive their picture.

The prints are also be available to purchase through our online studio at £95.00 (post and packaging free). £50.00 from the sale of each picture will be donated to Polly bear’s annual care. Click here to purchase securely

We would also urge you to write to the Chinese government to stop other bears suffering the same cruel treatment. Click here to download a sample letter

January 2010 - an update on Polly Bear