After spending years inside a cage at a bile farm, Tuffy knew exactly how to celebrate his freedom.
A video released this week by Animals Asia shows the bear spending his first day at a Vietnam sanctuary jumping around a pool. Like he’s the happiest bear on earth.
He jumps up and down, splashing water around and throwing his back at the water.
“After years of little or no water, this must feel like a true oasis… freedom to splash around after only being able to stand on the hard metal bars of a bile farm cage,” said Louise Ellis, bear manager of the Hong Kong-based animal protection group.
The charity saved Tuffy and six other bears from bile farms in the northern province of Quang Ninh last September.
A post on the Animals Asia website said his gallbladder was damaged so severely it had to be removed.
Workers at the sanctuary in Vinh Phuc Province, not far from Hanoi, said Tuffy will have to go through many treatments to fully recover.
He has three damaged teeth that have to be extracted while his cracked feet make it difficult for him to walk around.
Despite all the hardship, the bear has really enjoyed his newfound freedom.
He refused to go back to his den after enjoying the pool and instead spent the first free night outside under the stars, the sanctuary staff said.
There are still around 1,200 bears being caged at bile farms in Vietnam and more than 10,000 in China, according to Animals Asia.
The organization said it has rescued nearly 600 bears from the countries and is taking care of nearly 400 of them.
It said bears caught in the bile industry do not only suffer serious and long-term health impacts from bile extraction, but poor living conditions also cause tooth decay, skin inflammation and cataract.
Bile extracted from bears has been used in traditional medicine in Vietnam and China, a practice that has been criticized by various advocacy groups.