years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Jill with Vietnamese officials at our rescue centre in Chengdu in June 2004.
Jill feeds a farmed moon bear on a Vietnamese bear farm in October 2004.
The Animals Asia team have been investigating bear farming in Vietnam since 1999. Following our exposure of the practice and the shocking new techniques which were being used to extract the bears' bile (which had never been revealed before), we continued with countless field trips documenting the ongoing abuse of farmed bears and working with members of the Vietnamese government in various departments across the country.
In July 2001, after lobbying foreign Embassies and non-government organisations in Vietnam for support, Animals Asia submitted official letters to Prime Minister Mr. Phan Van Khai, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and other government departments, encouraging them to urgently act and end the illegal bear bile industry.
In September 2002, following three years of intensive work and publicity by Animals Asia and encouraged by local government and non-government groups within the country, a historic ruling was passed by his excellency Pham Van Khai and the Government of Vietnam, which placed Asiatic Black Bears onto the highest level of protection in the country ― thus making the hunting, keeping and exploitation of all bear species for the bile industry entirely illegal.
In June 2004, a landmark three-day workshop was sponsored and hosted by Animals Asia at our Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, China. Attending this important workshop were Vietnamese Government members of the Forest Protection Departments (FPD) of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, the Ministry of Health and the Director of Hanoi's National Hospital of Traditional Medicine. They were joined by members of the Chinese government's Sichuan Forestry Department, who have supported our work and rescue in China since the year 2000.
Animals Asia seized this opportunity to state our ongoing objection with regard to the Vietnamese government's refusal to ban breeding on the bear farms. We reiterated our concern that while the government was stating their intention to wind the farms down, the ongoing breeding would in fact enable the industry to continue and possibly expand.
Towards the end of 2004, we once again raised our concerns, and called upon the Vietnamese government to ban breeding on the bear farms and to order the immediate ban of bile extraction and sale countrywide.
November 2005: Our ongoing discussions resulted in the Vietnamese government making a firm commitment to phase out bear farming in 2005. On 16 November 2005, Animals Asia signed a formal agreement to fund and develop a facility that would permanently rehabilitate and house 200 endangered bears rescued from the illegal bear bile industry.
The 2005 agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture and Animals Asia provides 12 hectares of land for the bear rescue centre in Chat Dau Valley, Tam Dao National Park.
The centre was authorised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2005 and given project approval in a directive from the Prime Minister of Vietnam in 2008.
It has been a great example of cooperation between an international charity, the Vietnamese government, the Vietnamese people, as well as supporters and donors around the world.
Vietnam bear undergoing bile extraction in October 2004.
Vet Director, Gail Cochrane, explaining the impact of bear farming to Vietnamese officials, during surgery on a farmed bear at the rescue centre in Chengdu in June 2004.
Jill showing Vietnamese officials the Education Classroom in Chengdu in June 2004.
Vietnamese and Chinese government officials and AAF staff, round up the workshop at our rescue centre in Chengdu.