6 min read

Little Bear Cub Wasn't Even Recognizable When People Found Him

He and his sister were living off nothing but bananas — but they're such happy, chubby cubs now!

Today, Ant and Kham are happy and playful little bear cubs. But just one year ago, these moon bears were so weak that they could hardly lift their heads.

Locked in a tiny cage at a construction site in Laos, the bears had spent the entirety of their young lives behind bars as pets. Their bodies were so skinny, with wispy reddish-brown fur hanging loosely hanging off their frames. They looked close to death.

moon bear rescue laos
Free The Bears

The brother and sister had endured so much, but their new lives were just around the corner. Free The Bears fund had been alerted of the animals’ fate and traveled to rescue them last February.

The rescuers were able to slowly piece together the details of the animals’ pasts.

moon bear rescue laos
Free The Bears

“We were told that they had only ever been fed bananas,” Rod Mabin, communications manager for Free The Bears, told The Dodo. “Both bears were very skinny, lethargic and very small for their age, closer to the size of 6- to 9-month-old cubs cubs despite being 2 to 3 years old. Their fur should have been a rich and thick black coat.”

Suffering from severe malnutrition, the bears were hardly clinging to life — but they did. Back at the rescue center after a long journey home, the bears settled comfortably into a quarantine ward and were given the most nutritious meals they’d had in their lives.

After a few weeks of steady meals, medicine and room to move around, the cubs were feeling stronger — and even felt well enough to meet a friend.

moon bear rescue
Ant and Kham being silly in their enclosure at the rescue | Free The Bears

“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.”

The bears once had growling stomachs and barely any energy — and now they were playing and romping around like youngsters. With each month at the rescue, Ant and Kham experienced new sights, sounds and toys.

moon bear rescue
Free The Bears

The siblings met everything new with curiosity, and although they may never grow as big as other cubs their age, they make up for it in heart. Their hair is slowly starting to get thicker, but only time will tell to know whether they are 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.”

It’s now been a year since they were rescued, and Ant and Kham have completely transformed. They live alongside several other rescued youngsters, and the staff hopes to bring them to an even larger forest home later this year.

After everything they’ve endured, they’ve finally found peace and comfort — together.

moon bear rescue laos
Free The Bears

“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 center], helping to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and wildlife conservation issues.”

To support Ant and Kham’s lifelong care, you can make a donation to Free The Bears.