Bear Hidden Away In Tiny Cage For 20 Years Feels Grass Under Her Feet For First Time

Dawn spent the first 20 years of her life trapped in a tiny cage on a bile farm in Vietnam. The Asian black bear had never felt the sun on her face or the grass under her feet or had a friend.

Dawn was rescued in February 2023 along with several other moon bears used in bile farming. Animals Asia, a charity devoted to ending bear bile farming and rescuing the bears throughout Asia, reveals that Dawn was “one of the most broken bears we’d ever seen.”

For months Dawn had access to the outside, but she was so scared she never left her cage. She remained locked in a behavior they call “learned helplessness”. She had learned that no matter what behavior she tried in order to avoid punishment, bad things continued to happen. It would take time for her to slowly learn she was now in a safe place.

“She was almost bald and completely shut down. We feared we’d never break through to her,” the rescue group writes. “But after months of encouraging her and building up trust, our brave girl has taken the final step on her journey to recovery and stepped onto natural ground for the first time in her life.”

Not only is Dawn learning it’s safe to go outside, she’s making friends with other bears. She recently met Midnight, another bear who lived 20 years alone in a cage. Neither of them had ever met another bear before. A week after they first met, Dawn and Midnight played for hours together.

“We couldn’t be happier with how these two older ladies are getting on, it’s better than we dared hope for,” writes Animals Asia. “After everything they’ve been through it’s such a joy to watch them having fun and simply being bears.”

Animals Asia has rescued over 700 bears in the past several years. They share, “We are the Vietnam government’s chosen partner for ending bear bile farming in Vietnam and are rescuing every last bear on bile farms in the country.” Visit for information on how you can support Dawn and bears like here.

If you are interested in seeing more of Dawn’s recovery, you can watch the video below:

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