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).
Since 1992, it has been illegal to poach, exploit or utilise Asiatic black bears (moon bears) or sun bears in Vietnam under Ministerial Decree 18. However at that time, Asiatic black bears were listed in Group II of Vietnam’s legislation and a grey area existed as “live animals from the second generation may be used for other purposes”.
In September 2002, moon bears were finally elevated to Group IB, which in effect closed the loophole and made bear farming illegal. However, the practice is still widespread.
According to official statistics, there were about 4,000 farmed bears in Vietnam in 2008 (90% of whom were moon bears) with another 600 captive bears used for display purposes.
Unlike in China, where bears are "tapped" for their bile, bears in Vietnam are subjected to a variety of other cruel procedures. All are caged and some undergo crude surgery to remove bile from their gall bladders every three months. This leaves agonising, infected wounds and often leads to death after three or four such operations.
Today, the bears usually have their gall bladders punctured with long needles, which then "siphon" off the bile via a pump into a glass bottle. Continuous puncturing of the gall bladder often leads to bile leakage and a slow and painful death from peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum – the membrane that lines the wall of the abdomen and covers the abdominal organs).
As of 2005, the Vietnamese Government made a firm commitment to phase out bear farming and on 16 November 2005, Animals Asia signed a formal agreement with the authorities to rescue 200 farmed bears in Hanoi.
After eight years of working on the bear farming issue in Vietnam, we are proud to announce that the Vietnam Bear Rescue has begun! The sanctuary next to the Tam Dao National Park was officially opened in April 2008 and by October 2008, 24 bears had been rescued and brought to the centre.
Around 4,000 bears are kept on farms throughout Vietnam.
Bears are drugged with the illegal drug, ketamine, before being milked for their bile.