Dorle the sun bear was stolen from the wild when she was just a cub and taken from Laos to Vietnam to live as a pet. As she got older and started attacking her owners, she was made to live in a tiny cage, and spent most of her days trying to chew her way out of it.
Dorle was finally rescued from her terrible life when she was 4 years old. When rescuers from Animals Asia found her, many of her teeth were fractured from chewing on her cage, and her gums were rotten and filled with pus. She was taken to live at Animal Asia's sanctuary, and given all the space and freedom to roam that she'd never had before.
In the years since arriving at the sanctuary, Dorle's sight has deteriorated to the point where now, at 10 years old, she's almost completely blind — but after everything she's been through, her newfound blindness doesn't seem to bother her in the least.
"I have no doubt that Dorle has been well aware of her decreasing vision over the years," Heidi Quine, Vietnam bear and vet team director for Animals Asia, told The Dodo. "However, she's adapted beautifully and uses her other senses to achieve all that she needs to."
Dorle is quite the character, and loves playing the role of the "drama queen" at the sanctuary, often roaring and crying out for no reason at all. Because she can't see anything, she seems to compensate by making as much noise as she possibly can. She loves to cause trouble, and one of her absolute favorite activities is destroying the bamboo that makes up her enclosure.
For some reason, Dorle greatly enjoys breaking and ripping the bamboo tree protectors and other bamboo items that fill her enclosure, and it might be because the destruction results in a loud cracking sound that blind Dorle seems to love and take comfort in. Sun bears in general also seem to love using their strength as a means of entertainment, breaking and pulling apart whatever they can find.
One might think that Dorle destroying the bamboo in her enclosure would be somewhat of a problem — but her caregivers at the sanctuary are more than happy to rebuild whatever she breaks, every single time.
"Thankfully, Dorle doesn't destroy the 'entire' enclosure," Quine said. "The trees in her enclosure are protected by long bamboo poles, and they are also given lots of toys, hammocks, swings, etc., which are often made of bamboo, too. All these items can be destroyed by Dorle or others in her cohort. As soon as something is broken, it is repaired or replaced within a day."
Dorle started her life with very little joy, and now the staffers at the sanctuary want her to do whatever makes her happy, even if it means a little more work for them. They just want Dorle to be able to live her best life.
To help other bears like Dorle, you can donate to Animals Asia.