New bear houses open for Vietnam’s rescued bears

06 November 2014

Animals Asia and Forest Protection Department's representatives cutting ribbon at the opening ceremony 1

Four new enclosures with a capacity of up to 80 bears opened yesterday (Wednesday Nov 5th 2014) in Vietnam to house bears rescued from Vietnam's bear bile industry.

The new enclosures are made up of two double bear houses and are part of the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre run by Animals Asia in Tam Dao near Hanoi.

The new construction, which covers 12,000 square metres, provides more space for bears for future rescues as well as increased flexibility to house the 110 bears which currently live at the sanctuary. Click the picture below for a larger picture.

New bear houses panorama

The bears have all been rescued from the bear bile industry. The majority directly from bear bile farms across Vietnam. Increasingly, as the use of bear bile dwindles, the sanctuary is taking more bears confiscated from traffickers heading to the China border.

In Vietnam there are officially 1,978 bears still on farms despite the practice being made illegal in 1992. Farmers continue to exploit loopholes to evade closure and arrest.

Bile is extracted directly from the bear's gall bladder by means of a temporary catheter and pump or a syringe.

Animals Asia's work in Vietnam is carried out in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Animals Asia has an agreement to rescue and house 200 bears. Once this number has been reached, Animals Asia will look to expand their commitment to rescuing and housing Vietnam's bile farmed and trafficked bears.

Tuan Bendixsen - Vietnam Director giving speech at the opening ceremony

Animal Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:

"This is a proud moment for Animals Asia. Each of the bears rescued at the centre is an ambassador for those still in cages. With each bear we can show the damage that bear bile farming does and raise further awareness of this cruel industry.

"The bears come to us, often little able to walk, after years of being stuck in a cage. After quarantine, surgery, rest and rehabilitation they are integrated into groups in these beautiful enclosures. There they enjoy the large space of near-natural enclosures and the community of bears around them. For many it will be the first time they have touched grass or felt the sunshine on their backs."

The opening of the bear houses closes a significant chapter in Animals Asia's history in Vietnam. The NGO fought a successful campaign against eviction two years ago and is now back on track in developing the sanctuary.

Media during the opening ceremony 2

Tuan added:

"There are huge obstacles to ending bear bile farming in Vietnam but there is a genuine will to make it happen. Authorities, organisations like ourselves and, we believe, even the bear farmers want it over. To finish it is just a matter of resources. Resources like this."

Animals Asia has rescued over 500 bears in Vietnam and China. In China it has two sanctuaries - one in Chengdu, and one in Nanning - a former bile farm now being converted into a sanctuary.

Lazy day for bear in new bear house

The bear enjoys his new house

New bear house, VBRC 3