The primary goal of the educational project funded by Bears in Mind (2011-2012) was to increase awareness among school children and students about the situation in which captive bears in Thailand live. Staff members of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) gave presentations at schools and universities on the abuse and mistreatment of bears. These presentations were supplemented with educational material in the form of a booklet (both in English and in Thai) describing the threat to and the ways to protect bears in Southeast Asia. The booklet provided examples of bears, which have been saved by the WFFT. It also further explains the welfare problems of bears living in captivity and provided general information about wild bears in Thailand.
Although mostly elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, snakes and orang-utans are used for human entertainment in Thailand, bears are often kept locked up in small cages in so-called zoos. Moreover, they are also kept illegally as pets. Small bear cubs look very cute when they are still young, however as they grow bigger they become aggressive, unmanageable and thus dangerous to people. Most bear owners end up dropping their ‘pets’ off at a temple or an animal sanctuary. Since its initiation, WFFT has rescued more than 1,500 animals, primarily monkeys (macaques, gibbons and langurs), tigers and bears (Asiatic black bears and Sun bears).