Animals Asia - Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre Visit


Following the symposium, participants are invited on a one-day trip to visit Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre on 25 March 2021.

Spread over an area of 11 hectares, the sanctuary has been built to accommodate up to 200 bears, with almost 30,000 square metres of semi-natural outdoor enclosure space designed to stimulate the bears’ natural behaviours. There are five double bear houses, each containing two rows of conjoined dens. Each row of dens opens out onto a large outdoor enclosure with pools, trees and various structures and furniture designed to aid rehabilitation.


There are also two bear houses with no outdoor access, often used as temporary care areas for bears requiring extra monitoring over a period of time, and sometimes as an extra quarantine area for newly-rescued bears. There is also a large, dedicated quarantine area that provides temporary housing space for new arrivals in large cages while they are in quarantine, learning to trust and adjust. 


As the team in Vietnam regularly receives cubs confiscated from wildlife traders or poachers, we have also constructed a 280 square metre cub house with a 1000 square metre outdoor area split into seven enclosures. Furnished with cub-sized wooden sleeping platforms, the cub dens house young bears until they are mature enough to be moved to the larger double bear houses and integrated with the adults.

The sanctuary’s surgical facilities and hospital are equipped with veterinary anaesthesia monitoring equipment, a portable ultrasound machine, x-ray room, ophthalmic and dental equipment and on-site laboratory facilities to give the rescued bears the best possible chance of recovery.

The Tam Dao rescue centre has been built to strict environmental guidelines and with architecture sympathetic to the park’s environment and local customs. We have also installed two state-of-the-art waste water treatment systems to recycle and reuse water. Designed to handle a daily capacity of 70 cubic metres, the system treats and recycles domestic wastewater and wastewater from the bear dens, purifying both in a low-maintenance natural biological treatment process. This involves sedimentation, flotation, and the breakdown of materials using bacteria and sunlight, all of which helps ensure that our facilities do not deplete or pollute the local water supply.

 Many of the enrichment furnishings and toys the bears enjoy in their enclosures have also been made from local materials and are built on-site by our own bear horticulture team. 

The Bears

The adult bears we receive in Vietnam suffer from various physical ailments, such as:  

  • Gall bladder damage
  • Scarring of internal abdominal organs and gall stones from bile extraction
  • Broken and infected teeth from inappropriate diet and biting on cage bars
  • Missing feet or limbs from being caught in the wild
  • A range of eye diseases
  • Stunted bone growth
  • Arthritis and fractures
  • Heart disease
  • Tumours
  • Thickened and cracked feet from standing on bars
  • Traumatic wounds and injuries
  • Skin and ear infections
  • Hair loss from rubbing
  • Body conditions ranging from emaciation to obesity from being kept immobile and fed a poor and inappropriate diet 

On top of this, many newly rescued bears are also anxious, angry and frustrated.

We receive many cubs, many who have been separated from their mothers before they were fully weaned. As these youngsters are vulnerable to stress and easily frightened, they need to be housed in a sheltered, quiet environment and fed a carefully balanced diet to keep them healthy. Young bears also need lots of stimulation, so the cub dens are equipped with safe cub-sized toys and structures to play with.

Along with adult moon bears and moon bear cubs, the Vietnam sanctuary also receives Malayan sun bears, which are often kept individually as display bears in resorts and restaurants and sometimes also subjected to bile extraction. The sun bears have their own separate enclosures at the sanctuary.

Despite the poor condition of many of the bears we receive, most make a good recovery. This is partly because of their stoic and resilient nature, but also because of the expert behavioural and veterinary care they receive from our experienced team of veterinarians, vet nurses, behavioural managers, bear care staff and volunteers.

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Education and Research 

As part of the centre’s public education programme, the team has developed presentations and workshops on the conservation and welfare needs of bears, as well as general animal welfare and environmental issues, which are offered to young people at schools and universities.

In 2010, the team conducted a survey on the use of bile among 150 traditional medicine (TM) practitioners in Vietnam in order to identify the level of usage of bear bile. This survey was enlarged in 2012 to include representatives from approximately 70,000 practitioners. Using the survey results the team is working closely with the Vietnam TM Association to develop an educational programme to raise awareness of the herbal alternatives to bear bile among TM practitioners and the public. As part of this programme, a large herb garden has being established at the sanctuary where many of the 54 alternatives to bear bile are grown.



Through the team’s hard work and willingness to share their expertise and experience with other NGOs, animal welfare organisations and park authorities – as well as their ability to engage with celebrities and politicians such as former national assembly member Professor Nguyen Lan Dung – the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre has become a focal point for public education on bear bile farming and bear conservation and welfare in Vietnam. The bear team also conducts important research on bear behaviour, the adverse affects of the industry on the bears’ mental and physical health and the potential risks of using bile.

EMAIL to book your place on the tour now!