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).
Fourteen bears have been rescued from the bear bile trade in Vietnam and transported to the Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao, near Hanoi. The bears show significant health problems including missing and maimed limbs, indicating they may have been trapped in the wild.
The Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears, because of the yellow crescent-shaped moon across their chests, came from a bear farm in Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam about 15km north of Ho Chi Minh City. One of the four owners, Mr Nguyen Ngoc Tien decided to give up his share of the farm to Animals Asia, having seen the organisation's work in the media. This is the first time in Vietnam that a bear farm has given up significant number of bears without any demand for compensation.
Across Asia, an estimated 14,000 moon bears are being held in captivity on farms and milked for their bile because its believed to be effective in the practice of traditional Asian medicine despite the availability of inexpensive and effective herbal and synthetic alternatives.
In Vietnam, bears are kept in small cages, drugged, restrained and have their abdomens jabbed with unsterilised four inch needles until their gall bladders are punctured to release their bile.
The rescued bears show a range of serious health issues including fractured teeth, infected mouths, skin conditions, abdominal hernias and obesity. They are likely to be suffering from internal damage due to bile extraction and the extent of this will be revealed through health-checks over the coming weeks.
"Mr Nguyen had the opportunity to sell the bears to others but for reasons of conscience decided to give them to Animals Asia, and he is now encouraging other bear farmers to do the same. We want to see an end to bear farming across Vietnam so no more bears have to suffer"
The bear's journey from the bear farm in Binh Duong to the sanctuary in Tam Dao was approximately 2000km and took five days. The rescue team was lead by Tuan Bendixsen and included expert vets, vet nurses, bear workers, support staff and drivers.
The legal transfer of the bears was handled by the Binh Duong Forest Protection Department. There were representatives present from the Binh Duong government, Binh Duong Department of Animal Health, environmental police, and local police.
Bear farming is illegal in Vietnam though people are allowed to keep bears as pets. While they claim bears are not milked, it is widely known that bear farming is a thriving industry in Vietnam.
According to government figures released in 2005, there were 4,190 bears on farms, and 1,453 bear farmers. According to the government, the number of bears has reduced by about 700 bears since that time, but there is no official data available to verify this.