A moon bear looks into the camera, while eating a melon.

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Floppy Feet and a Broken Heart

A Moon Bear’s Second Chance

Laos Rescue #59 was so small, so fragile and stunted, that she looked like a sixth-month-old cub. But she was three years old. The poor, malnourished moon bear was a victim of the illegal wildlife trade and had spent her short life neglected, hungry, and in pain. All she’d ever known was suffering and loneliness. Then one day, her fate changed.

Our partners at Free the Bears heard about the miniature bear’s dire situation and quickly deployed an emergency rescue team. The dedicated group traversed dense jungles, forded monsoon-swollen rivers, and navigated washed-out roads under cold gray skies to reach the little bear before it was too late. Their journey was grueling, but they wouldn’t give up. The poor, desolate bear deserved a chance at a better life.

The Road to Recovery – and a Name

Laos #59’s rescue team found her to be timid but sweet, even though her mangled feet were in relentless, excruciating pain. The gentle bear deserved to be more than a number, so the team affectionately nicknamed her Floppy Feet, then began slowly earning her trust. Floppy Feet would have to be shifted into a travel crate in order to be liberated and transported to a sanctuary operated by Free the Bears.

Floppy Feet’s rescuers were patient with her, letting her adjust to her new circumstances at her own pace. Finally, they enticed her into a transport carrier, luring her with fresh bananas, dollops of honey, and hours of encouragement. Floppy Feet looked tiny in the travel crate, like a cub instead of the adult bear that she was.

After a health check-up and some quiet time to adjust to the sanctuary, Floppy Feet’s second chance could truly begin. She explored tentatively at first, keeping her distance from the other bears, shy and unsure. Slowly, her confidence grew and she blossomed into a friendly, social bear.

Mended Body, Mended Heart

Floppy Feet will never be lonely again, suffering in silence. She’ll never be hungry again. She’ll never be too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer, exposed to the elements. She’ll never spend hours staring into the distance, languishing, with nothing to occupy her mind and no one to care about her fate. Floppy Feet will spend the rest of her life in safety, never worrying about being hunted by poachers who would profit from her suffering.

This brave little bear is thriving now – she’s enjoying excellent medical care and peaceful naps in the sun. She snacks on melons while she swings in her hammock. She has acres to roam with her friends, climbing, wrestling, and foraging. Floppy Feet is curious and easy-going, playful and sometimes silly. Her resilient spirit inspires everyone who visits the sanctuary. Best of all, Floppy Feet has flourished into the happy, carefree bear she was always meant to be.

Floppy Feet enjoys some treats.

Floppy Feet has flourished into the happy, carefree bear she was always meant to be.

Bears in Danger – How You Can Help

Bears around the world are in trouble. Decades of poaching, wildlife trafficking, and habitat loss have devastated wild populations. And for most bear species, numbers are declining rapidly.

  • Your gift of $30 could feed a rescued bear cub for one week, providing the special milk formula tiny bears need for nourishment.
  • Your gift of $58 could provide a week of bear care for an adult bear, including health check-ups and their favorite foods like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and green beans.
  • Your gift of $300 could provide emergency transport to rescue a bear in desperate need, like Floppy Feet.

Your tax-deductible donation to the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy can help rescue bears from a horrific fate in the jungles of Asia, keep an eye on polar bears across the Arctic, and protect brown bears at home in North America.

Read more about Floppy Feet, Blue, Beryl and Brenda, and other rescued bears.

rhino mom and baby


As we face the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, our team of dedicated specialists continue to care for countless animals and plants that depend on us each and every day.

Your continued support is critical to the wildlife in our care and vital to endangered species worldwide.