A bear cub rescued from the black market by Free the Bears has finally learned how to walk after months of 24-hour care, global veterinary advice, and exercise with other cubs at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia.
The bear cub nicknamed Blue, discovered in a blue basket in October and labeled as Rescue #183, was found to have spinal problems that were likely caused by physical trauma at an extremely young age, according to the Free the Bears Facebook page.
Blue couldn't walk. He tired after a couple steps and would often just give up.
Officials sought advice from around the world and considered euthanasia if Blue showed signs of pain or if his condition didn’t improve.
Free the Bears, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 in Australia to protect, preserve, and enrich the lives of bears, posted this touching video that tells the story of Blue:
"Not long after [Blue's] arrival, new cub Baker was rescued, and his rambunctious spirit meant that Blue had no choice but to constantly build up his strength," Free the Bears' Facebook post explained.
"Months later, Blue is now able to walk on his feet (although not perfectly) and is able to climb on his frame. He still gets tired when he reaches the top and uses his teeth to help him hang on during his travels.
"Blue is still a very young, growing bear and is not out of the woods yet, but he is dearly loved and we at Free the Bears are so happy with his progress."
It was unclear how Blue was rescued, but it was pretty evident what he was rescued from.
Blue, a sun bear (the world's smallest and least studied bear), probably would have been kept as a pet in a small cage and would likely be dead if he had not been rescued, as he has a curved spine, Free the Bears told the Daily Mail.
Hotels and restaurants are said to sometimes keep these bears on display for the amusement of tourists.
According to Free the Bears, Asiatic black bears are held in coffin-sized cages, unable to move or turn, and have unclean catheters inserted directly into their gall bladders. They are milked for their bile to be used in traditional medicine. Other bears are butchered for bear-paw soup.
It's what led Mary Hutton to found Free the Bears in 1995 and what prompted John Stephens to initiate an overseas project in Cambodia that became the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre.
"This is now the world's largest sanctuary for sun bears and has educated hundreds of thousands of Cambodians about the threats facing their wild bear populations," Free the Bears wrote on its website.
And it is now home to Blue, an adorable sun bear that is now enjoying a protected and enriched life thanks to people who care.
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