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Moon Bear Monday: We Love Cranky Friends Maple And Dolly

Moon bears Maple and Dolly have found themselves side by side for as long as they can remember – but not always by choice. For years they languished in adjacent cages on a bear bile farm in Vietnam's southern Binh Duong province before being rescued in 2011.

Nearly 2,000 bears remain on bear bile farms around Vietnam where their bile is illegally extracted for use in traditional medicine. The extraction process causes serious physical harm to the animals' internal organs while they are also kept in unsuitable conditions which cause long-term mental damage.

Despite the illegality of the industry and the existence of herbal and synthetic alternatives, the cruel trade persists in the country.

Now the unlikely pair of Maple and Dolly find themselves together again in a new enclosure at Animals Asia's Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

Like TVs Two Fat Ladies, these two damaged moon bears are far from being the best of pals, but have come to an understanding and agreed to put up with each other.

Animals Asia's Bear and Vet Team Director Annemarie Weegenaar said, "Maple has been cranky with other bears, growling and open mouthing at them through the bars ever since she arrived. But Dolly's passive demeanor seems to disarm her. Maple has agreed to tolerate Dolly now letting her sleep in the same den and follow her around the enclosure."

They have a lot in common after all.

Both were massively overweight and missing front limbs, most likely from being caught by hunters' snares in the wild, when rescued from Vietnam's bear bile farms.

Obese Maple was actually the largest bear the sanctuary had ever received tipping the scales at a whopping 208 kg. Thankfully, a more suitable diet and opportunities to exercise have seen her lose an astonishing 69 kg. However, she's still undeniably a big girl.

Sadly too, she now lives on a diet of boiled vegetables following the removal of nearly every last tooth – another bleak reminder of her mistreatment on a bear bile farm where a diet of unsuitable rice congee all too often causes tartar to build up and teeth to rot.

"They're a grumpy pair but you can't help but love them. They've been through so much and have so many issues that you have to admire them for struggling through – and perhaps for putting up with each other too," said Weegenaar.

Have a great #moonbearmonday everyone.