200th bear arrives at Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary after 17 years of bile farm misery

24 October 2018

Animals Asia’s rescue team arrived at their Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre at 7:30pm, Tuesday 23 October having rescued a female moon bear from a bile farm in Vietnam’s Cao Bang province.

The rescue is Animals Asia’s 200th in Vietnam, with the charity having saved a further 418 bears in China.

The bear, who does not yet have a name, was originally thought to have been around three years old when registered in 2005. However, her owner claims she bought the bear 17 years ago when she was just a cub of 34 kilogrammes.

As a result of the rescue, the bile farm has been shut down and the owners will never again be able to keep bears.

close up of NoNameBear in TC

Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:

“Rescuing the 200th bear is certainly a milestone for the team, but most importantly, this is another individual rescued, another farm closed, and another step closer to completely eradicating bear bile farming in Vietnam by 2023." 

The rescued bear will now begin a 45-day quarantine period during which she will also receive health care and be introduced to a healthy, species-appropriate diet.

After quarantine, her rehabilitation process will see her move to a spacious den where she will regain her strength before eventually being introduced to other bears and given access to an outdoor enclosure when she is physically and mentally ready.

Moon bears can live to be up to 30 years old so it is hoped that the rescued bear could go on to enjoy many years of peace and happiness at Animals Asia’s sanctuary.

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear and Vet Team Director, Heidi Quine said:

“We’re delighted that this long-suffering bear is finally safe and we can begin to make her well again. Overcoming such extreme cruelty and isolation is never easy, but each bear reacts differently. So far, she seems calm but there have also been signs of psychological trauma that will take time to overcome.

“Once we have a chance to assess her health properly and observe her behaviour further, we’ll have a better idea of how long she may need before she is ready to step out onto grass.”

In August this year, Animals Asia successfully rescued five bears in the south of Vietnam, while last month a female moon bear named Sky was rescued from mountainous Lao Cai province.

Bears on bile farms in Vietnam suffer poor nutrition, egregious health and living conditions, and no proper veterinary care, displaying physical and emotional symptoms of their suffering.

Bile is crudely extracted using unsanitary needles for use in traditional medicine. The majority of bears held in these terrible conditions on bile farms are Asiatic black bears, otherwise known as moon bears.

Moon bears are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, and categorised as endangered by CITES. More than 10,000 are held on bear bile farms in China, and around 800 are also trapped in cages as part of the industry in Vietnam.

Animals Asia began to take on the issue of bear bile farming in Vietnam in 1999, opening its Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre (VBRC), the first sanctuary devoted to bears in that country, in 2008.

Bear bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 2005 when every bear in captivity was microchipped. However, without facilities to hold the over 4,000 bears on farms at the time, those holding the bears were permitted to keep them, and the practice persisted.

However, in 2017, the government signed a landmark partnership agreement with Animals Asia that will see every farm closed and the remaining approximately 800 bears sent to sanctuaries by 2022 as the country works to eradicate the cruel trade.

Having exposed and opposed bear bile farming since its founding in 1998, Animals Asia has rescued over 600 bears in Vietnam and China. Today, nearly 200 bears continue to live peaceful lives at Animals Asia’s VBRC, while a further 190 are cared for by the nonprofit organisation in China.

No-Name is in bad shape. She’s suffered in silence for many years. She will need extensive care and rehabilitation in the coming weeks and months.

Please, if you can, donate and suggest ‘No-Name Bear’s’ first ever name now