Animals Asia's Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director Annemarie Weegenaar said, "Elise and Rae are quite different but complement each other really well. Elise is really brave both with new bears and new spaces and that bravery or curiosity has really helped the more sensitive Rae."
The two individuals have different histories too. While Rae was the only bear to be kept at a plastics factory, Elise was just one of 54 bears on an industrial bear bile farm in southern Vietnam's Binh Duong province.
Sadly, Vietnam's bear bile farms still hold nearly 2,000 bears. They are kept in poor conditions so that the bile can be extracted from their gall bladders for use in traditional medicine.
The extraction process results in long term physical and mental health problems for the animals, with many starved, dehydrated and suffering from multiple diseases and malignant tumours that ultimately kill them When Elise was rescued by Animals Asia in 2011, she had raw lesions on her forehead from chronic head-swaying. The pain of bile extraction and the insufferable boredom of years in a tiny cage had caused her to rub her head against the bars.