BREAKING NEWS: Animals Asia rescue seven more bears from bile farms in Vietnam

22 September 2015

Returning for the bears Animals Asia was stopped from rescuing first time around

Bear rescuers will today (Tuesday 22 September), rescue seven moon bears from bear farms in Quang Ninh, Vietnam bringing the province a step closer to being bear bile free.

A team from international animal welfare NGO, Animals Asia, will rescue the moon bears from two locations in the province, where for years they have been held captive in small cages and suffered regular, painful bile extractions. The bile is used for traditional medicine.

It represents a huge breakthrough for the team and for the local authorities who have kept pushing for the release of these bears.

They will join 132 bears who already live in the beautiful surroundings of Tam Dao national park, at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

Today’s rescue comes hot on the heels of the mission in June to free 13 moon bears as part of the #Halong2Home rescue and, just weeks ago, a follow-up rescue of a bear they had previously been stopped from rescuing.

Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam Director for Animals Asia, said today’s rescue means that bear bile farming, in this province at least, will be almost eradicated, a major success for the charity that campaigns for an end to the industry altogether.

He said:

“During the June rescue, the first farm we visited was one that really affected the team. It had eight cages with bears in them. Some of the bears were in a terrible condition – malnourished, underweight, broken claws, their paws cracked and dry from being caged and unable to move around. The owner would only let us take two bears, and it was pretty clear he was only letting go of the two in the poorest of health.

“It was painful to have to leave the other six behind as he would not agree to relinquish them, but this time, they are coming with us. Today is the last day they’ll see the world through rusted iron bars, and the first day in a new life for all six.”

Bears in cages at Hong's bear farm, Quang Ninh 2015 (2)

The seventh bear will be rescued from a separate farm in the province. Little is known about the farm at this stage, except to say the owner was also reluctant to hand over the bear until recently.

In March this year, the Prime Minister’s office declared that every captive bear in Quang Ninh province must be transferred to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, setting a deadline of September for all transfers to be completed and the province to be officially bear bile farm-free.

Following the rescue only nine bears will remain in the province. Animals Asia is confident that these too will soon be rescued. Animals Asia has already rescued 17 bears from Quang Ninh since the Prime Minister’s go ahead.

Tuan said:

“In June this farmer was not willing to discuss freeing all his bears, but thanks to a tremendous effort from Quang Ninh authorities who persuaded him, he agreed days ago, and we were called into action.

“The owner is often considered especially fearsome - he had previously been quoted as saying he would ‘fight to the end’ to keep these bears. Make no mistake this is a significant breakthrough.”

Bears in cages at Hong's bear farm, Quang Ninh 2015 (1)

Jill Robinson, founder and CEO of Animals Asia, said:

“Another seven beautiful bears are leaving behind years of cruelty and can look forward to a new life of just being bears – foraging for food, deciding when to nap on the grass, or when to stretch out and play, and having the wide open space in which to do it.

“Animals Asia’s mantra has always been ‘until the cruelty ends’. We keep plugging away with that in mind, and today is yet one more success. But we need to carry on, to keep up this momentum. We can only carry out rescues like this with the help of our supporters, so we are all very grateful for everything they do to help make days like this possible.”

Today’s rescue comes hot on the heels of an announcement yesterday by Animals Asia and the Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association. Both have pledged to help end bear bile farming in Vietnam by 2020.