Hercules’s Story

Late February 2023 we were notified of two wild sun bears caught with their paws in snares. On learning about the 2 bears, our partners in Sumatra attended both sites immediately to rescue them. One of the bears, a female, was able to be safety freed from the snare as it had not caused the paw major injury. She was administered pain relief and antibiotics and released, away from further snares. Some distance away was a male sun bear who had been caught in a snare for around five days. This is a long time and can cause permanent tissue damage. It was decided that his injuries were too severe to be treated in situ, so he was tranquilized and brought to our site.

The veterinarians on site did their best to try and save the paw but it was determined that it could not be saved and would require amputation. SSBT sent over a team to support the Sumatran Rescue Alliance, SRA vets. Kimberly, our wildlife veterinarian, Lauren a human theatre nurse and Lesley, sun bear specialist took specialized veterinary equipment and medications for the procedure. Working together, the teams performed the amputation of the paw just above his wrist joint. It was a seamless operation. Some dentistry was also performed during his anesthesia. Following surgery, he recovered very well in the comfort of his prepared dens.

He is strong, powerful, and wild, the bear keepers on site had aptly named him Hercules. Lesley worked closely with Ikram, our sun bear keeper to help manage Hercules’s care, husbandry, medication administration and wellbeing. Hercules has somewhat settled, having two large dens, where he is provided with natural enrichment; branches, logs, bedding materials, and peace to help keep him mentally and physically fit.

The goal is to get Hercules where he belongs, back in the wild. We are happy with his progress so far. He can tear open logs and coconuts using his teeth and his right front paw. He can also walk over and through large vegetation despite his injuries.

We are sure that Hercules will be more than happy to be back home once the wildlife authorities have completed the legal process of this situation and we find a suitable place for release. Watch our social media channels and visit our website for further updates!