A soothing balm for humans – a life-saving change for bears.

What a joy to join our Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen and our fabulous Vietnam team last Tuesday in the bear farming hot spot of Phung Thuong. This is the locality that holds the unenviable record of having the largest number of captive farmed bears in the country; the commune that has seen untold suffering of bears extracted of their bile for use in traditional medicine for decades.

Today we were celebrating the coming together of government, specialist medicine doctors, businesses and even bear bile farmers to announce the 2024 update in our Bear Protection Awareness Program in Vietnam.

group on stage
A collaborative event with Hanoi Forestry Dept., Phung Thuong village residents, Cocoon and traditional medicine practicioners.

The aims of the press conference were to raise community awareness of bear protection, confirm the government's commitment to end the bile industry, launch a new herbal rubbing balm, and help conserve animals and nature in the wild.

This was the morning for the government department of the Hanoi Forest Protection Department (FPD) to encourage bear bile farmers to voluntarily surrender their bears and transfer them to our sanctuaries in Tam Dao and Bach Ma National Parks.

This was the morning for traditional doctors to inspire the local residents to abandon bear bile consumption, and embrace the herbal alternatives that would improve community health and promote a living environment of harmony with nature.

And this was the morning for local business Cocoon, which helped us announce the launch of Animals Asia's new herbal rubbing balm that contains five of the main 32 herbal alternatives to bear bile and other herbs to treat human aches and pains and draw closer to bears living where they belong, in the wild. Approved by the Ministry of Health for circulation in the market, the balm has already seen impressive feedback from clinical trials of 400 residents of Phung Thuong, with over 92% wanting to continue its use.

 Balm inspired by the Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association, made from herbal alternatives grown in Animals Asia's gardens. 

This balm was inspired by the Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association's own rubbing liquid ointment, made from herbal alternatives grown in our gardens, which we’ve been promoting successfully among the villagers, and schools, for some years now. It was a natural progression that led us to work with the Vu Gia Company and Cocoon to develop this new herbal balm that is as effective as the liquid rubbing medicine but is a more user-friendly product.

woman, man shaking handsThanks to Mr Tuyen of Hanoi FPD, who spoke passionately on behalf of all of Vietnam's wild animals.

As the speeches flowed we watched in awe as Hanoi Forest Protection Department official, Mr Tuyen, emphasised that not only should bears not be used in traditional medicine, but that all wild animals should enjoy their lives in Vietnam's forests – and that by 2026 there will be no more bears in captivity in Hanoi.

The Chairman of Phung Thuong Commune followed and stated that the captive bears in the area would enjoy a better living environment, and be more thoroughly protected at our bear rescue sanctuaries in Vietnam.

And with the morning's announcements over, the traditional doctors set up their clinic stations to offer the elderly residents of the community their free comprehensive health checks, and samples of the balm.

taking a pulse
Members of Vietnam's Traditional Medicine Association carry out health checks for villagers.

There was an enthusiastic rush as astonishingly nimble 90-year-olds clamoured to be first in the queue. Soon, they were fully engaged in the health check procedures and eagerly taking in the doctors’ advice, before happily retiring with their goodies that will not only help to keep them healthy, but see them spreading the word in their villages that bear bile farming is now legitimately on its way out.

health check
The atmosphere was calm and kind as certificates of appreciation were distributed to government, doctors, partners and sponsors and as we admired huge banner installations outside in the commune, advertising bear protection country wide.

people on stage, white coats, TCMCertificates of appreciation are distributed to the traditional medicine team...

...government and village representatives...

...and production partners. 

With gratitude to our entire Vietnam team for the escalating progress we enjoy and to supporters across the world for your faith and trust and support, and for days like this that show that promises made by powerful government and business entities in Vietnam are consistently being kept.

4 people in a groupHead of Dan Phuong FPD in Hanoi, Mr Ha, joins Tuan, Trinh - our PR leader in Vietnam - and Jill, looking to a brighter future for bears and other wildlife in Vietnam.

As our second sanctuary in Vietnam in beautiful Bach Mach National Park completes its first phase, as our team of Vietnam colleagues oversees its operation, and as previously caged and haunted bears are being rescued into dens and grassy enclosures, the team of Animals Asia thanks you, deeply, for helping to keep our promise and ensure that soon, no bear is left behind.

hands, balm, books