Bile bear turned pet handed over to Animals Asia in Vietnam

30 April 2013

A moon bear kept for bile extraction by a farmer in Ung Hoa District, near Hanoi, Vietnam, then later as a pet, has been handed over to Animals Asia. 

The family of the farmer contacted Animals Asia after researching its Vietnam sanctuary and rehabilitation of bears formerly farmed for their bile. The family had come to the decision that the bear deserved a comfortable “retirement” away from the cage that had restricted her for over a decade. 

Animals Asia was advised that the bear, they are calling Ung Hoa after the district, had not suffered extractions for two years. The family were so keen to do the right thing that they turned down money for the bear and instead handed it over to Animals Asia for no return.

Vietnam director Tuan Bendixsen said:

“The rescue of this bear is a reflection of changing attitudes not just to the farming of bears for their bile but of animal welfare in general. The farmer has put the welfare of the animal above personal gain - the bear had gone from being a source of income to a pet and part of the family. “

A health check under anaesthetic, showed her teeth to be in bad condition with many broken and others rotting away. There were also some fibrous changes in her liver as a result of damage caused by the extraction process. Earlier, during the drive back to the sanctuary, she had been so weak she slept the entire way.

Animals Asia announced earlier this year that it had managed to win the battle to avoid having the sanctuary evicted from its Tam Dao location. The rescue centre had been living with the possibility of having to close or relocate since September 2011. This had meant delays in plans to build further enclosures for rehabilitated bears.

As a result, a number of bears - including 14 rescued in November 2011 - are still awaiting access to open enclosures. With eviction fears now behind the Vietnam team, plans are now at an advanced stage with the new enclosures likely to be completed in early 2014.

Jill Robinson Animals Asia founder said:

“We’re delighted to welcome our latest addition to the family. She has already received an immediate health check at the start of the rescue, and requires extensive medical care in the days and weeks ahead. Following a period of quarantine and rehabilitation she will be transferred to a den where the rehabilitation will continue with an eventual move to a newly constructed enclosure.

“With each adult bear rescued since delays caused by the proposed eviction, they have been housed in dens without outside enclosure access. The vet care, rehabilitation and enrichment that Animals Asia offers still provides an environment that far exceeds that on any farm in Vietnam. We look forward to the opening of a new enclosure in 2014 - the day when we finally put the nightmare of that threatened eviction behind us.”