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).
Maggie Q adds voice to Animals Asia’s campaign to end bear farming
Hollywood star’s impassioned new video to air soon on major channels throughout Asia
Actress Maggie Q (“Three Kingdoms”, “Mission Impossible: III”, “Live Free or Die Hard”), is lending her voice to Animals Asia Foundation’s campaign to end Vietnam’s cruel bear bile industry.
Maggie, who is our Vietnam Moon Bear Rescue Ambassador, has recorded an impassioned community service announcement, which will be broadcast on major channels, including National Geographic, Discovery and CNN, throughout the Asia-Pacific over the next 12 months.
The stunning actress was the star attraction at the recent opening of the new bear house and enclosures at our Moon Bear Rescue Centre near Hanoi. Joining senior members of government and foreign embassy officials, Maggie witnessed rescued bears playing on grass for the first time.
Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson, said: “We are thrilled to have Maggie on board and just so grateful that she is taking the time to help the bears. We couldn’t have asked for a better ambassador to represent our cause in Vietnam. Maggie is totally committed to raising awareness about the cruelty of bear farming and the fact that there are many safer, more effective and cheaper herbal alternatives to bile.”
Maggie Q said: “I see bear bile farming as a stain on the history of this country, but one that can be wiped clean if we all work together to end this awful trade. The Vietnamese Government has come a long way in officially banning bear farming, but now it needs to go a step further by ensuring the ban is enforced.
“It’s not just the officials that need to act. We can all do our bit. Consumers of bear bile can switch to herbal or synthetic alternatives, teenagers can tell their parents about the cruelty involved in bear farming, and traditional medicine practitioners can refuse to sell products made from endangered species like moon bears.”
Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said he was sure that Maggie Q’s 30-second clip would capture the attention of millions of viewers around the region, raising much awareness about the issues involved. He said that while bile farming was illegal in Vietnam, it was common knowledge that bile extraction was still taking place.
To date, Animals Asia has rescued 26 bears in Vietnam, where we now have a fully operational bear sanctuary. The new bear house, which opened on 14 May, has roomy dens in two rows that open out to two large semi-natural enclosures on either side, one for the moon bears and one for the smaller sun bears. The enclosures are designed to encourage the bears’ natural behaviour, with rock pools, trees and climbing frames.
Animals Asia is building the 12-hectare sanctuary in Chat Dau Valley in the stunning Tam Dao National Park, Vinh Phuc Province in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Forest Protection Department. We are also working closely with customs officials and environmental police to help stamp out smuggling of bears from the wild.
Maggie Q’s message was recorded in Los Angeles, California, where she lives with her rescue dogs.
Jill Robinson said: “We are also very grateful for the generosity of two talented Hong Kong media executives who donated their time and amazing creativity to the project.” The script was written by Charles Edwards of The Media Village and creative director Patrick Tom. Editing and post-production of the clip was also provided by The Media Village.
Animals Asia is also extremely grateful to Mindshare for negotiating and arranging free air time for Maggie’s video, and of course the broadcasters for offering to run the clip throughout the region at no charge.
For more information, please contact Animals Asia’s:
While bear farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992, the practice is still widespread and around 4,000 bears remain trapped on bile farms.
Animals Asia has been negotiating with the Vietnamese Government on the issue since 1999. In 2005, after years of lobbying by the foundation, as well as other international and local NGOs, the authorities promised to act to phase out bear bile farming and, at the end of 2006, Animals Asia signed an agreement with the government to rescue 200 bears.
Our Vietnam Moon Bear Rescue Centre, nestled in a beautiful valley in the buffer zone of the stunning Tam Dao National Park, 70km north of Hanoi, will eventually be home to 200 “ambassador” bears that have suffered for years at the hands of bile farmers.
Phase one of the sanctuary, which includes a quarantine block and surgical facilities, can hold up to 100 bears in dens and large cages. Phase two, which is still being completed, will include more Double Bear Houses, a bear-food kitchen, visitor centre and graveyard.
The sanctuary is the focus of our campaign to end bear farming in Vietnam. It will have have an education centre, herb garden, visitor viewing area and staff accommodation.
Nearly all the rescued bears will be missing a limb, because they were snared in the wild in barbaric leg-hold traps. Most of the bears’ gall bladders – badly damaged from the years of torture on bile farms – will have to be surgically removed. We also fear that some bears will have peritonitis because of the primitive method of bile removal that has seen them prodded repeatedly in the abdomen with unsanitary needles before the extraction.
In Vietnam, bile is extracted with the assistance of an ultrasound machine, catheter and medicinal pump. The bears are drugged – usually with ketamine – restrained with ropes and have their abdomens repeatedly jabbed with unsterilised four-inch needles until the gall bladder is found. The bile is then removed with a catheter and pump. The process is highly unsanitary, dangerous for the farmers and excruciatingly painful for the bears.