Moon Bear

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Moon Bear

The moon bear, officially known as the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), is also known as the Himalayan black bear, Tibetan black bear, Collared bear and even Horse bear! The distinctive crescent of cream fur on their chest gives them the name "moon bear". 

Unfortunately, moon bears are threatened in many different ways, including illegal poaching for their body parts for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and habitat loss and fragmentation. 

Additionally, these bears are captured and placed in "farms" where they are subjected to life in tiny cages and the painful exraction of bear bile.  Bear bile, used in TCM, is taken from a bear's gall bladder through a permanent, open, often infected hole in their abdomen. This awful practice continues despite studies proving cheaper herbal and synthetic remedies are effective and more readily available.


View Location from Google Earth

With an extensive but now fragmented range, moon bears can be found in South Asia from Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, Nepal and Bhutan, east to Vietnam and northeast China. To the north they live in southeast Russia, Taiwan and the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikoku.

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) supports projects in China and Vietnam to help rescue moon bears from horrific lives in bear farms, offering them sanctuary and safety with other rescued bears.  DWSF funds help to maintain the sanctuary and support work with Chinese government partners, to close down more farms and rescue more bears.

Moon bears may migrate and spend the warmer months of the year at higher altitudes and then descend to the lowlands during colder months.

Moon Bear Facts

Once they are adults, moon bears tend to be solitary and active only at dawn and dusk (crepuscular).

DSWF funded project, Animals Asia has rescued over 400 bears from the bear bile farming trade in China and Vietnam. Moon bears are the most valued bears for traditional medicine, partly because the species was so abundant in the areas where traditional medicine originated.

Moon bears are omnivorous (eat both animal and plant foods), although they are primarily vegetarian. With a seasonal diet, they are able to take advantage of a variety of foods including insects, fruit, small mammals, carrion and bee nests. They LOVE honey!

Moon bears are medium sized bears with larger, more pronounced ears than other bear species. Their head to tail length is 1.2 - 1.9m. Males are about twice the size of females and female moon bears can usually be distinguished by the thicker ruff of fur around their necks.

More than 10,000 bears, mainly moon bears but also sun bears and brown bears, are kept on bile farms in China, and around 2,400 in Vietnam. Bears may be caged their whole lives, over 30 years, having been captured as cubs.

Sit back and watch

Video Updates

Watch the amazing story of Jasper the moon bear cared for by Animals Asia, supported by DSWF

Help the Moon Bear

You can help to rescue the moon bear by supporting the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's work!  Why not try fundraising at school or as an individual or adopting our beautiful moon bear.  Or enter our annual art and poetry competition!


Photography and video courtesy of Animals Asia.

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