BREAKING: Emergency bear bile farm rescue underway in Vietnam

18 June 2019

Animals Asia rescue team make mercy dash to mountainous region to rescue a moon bear left alone on an abandoned construction site.

Animals Asia’s rescue team are in Lang Son city, Vietnam today (Wednesday 19 June) to rescue an endangered moon bear abandoned on a construction site.

The bears’ legal owner is understood to have been arrested on charges of heroin trafficking leaving the bear in a precarious state of uncertainty.

The bear is believed to have been kept as a bile bear for at least 14 years and would only have left the cage in that time while unconscious to undergo inhumane bile extraction for traditional medicine. Such little regard has been given to the welfare of the bear, who rescuers are calling Solo, that even age and gender are currently unknown.

Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:

“Solo is in a very dangerous position right now. With the legal owner arrested, it is unclear who - if anyone - is feeding and watering Solo or providing any level of care. It’s vital that Solo is rescued from this dire situation as soon as possible and brought back to our sanctuary where real care can begin.

“Moon bears are an endangered species protected by Vietnamese law but hundreds are in peril in Vietnam, being kept in terrible conditions for economic exploitation by people who have absolutely no care or consideration for their welfare.”

Animals Asia’s rescue team, the most experienced in Asia, will break Solo out of the cage before beginning a 200 kilometre drive back to the charity’s award-winning rescue centre in Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc province.

Once safely at the sanctuary, Solo will undergo a 45-day quarantine period to protect the health of the 180 other rescued bears on site.

The sanctuary, which is the biggest in Vietnam, will be able to provide world-class veterinary care for Solo who is expected to be suffering from numerous health concerns, some of which can be life-threatening.

READ MORE: Five things you need to know about bear bile farming

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“It’s no surprise to hear that those involved in the illegal extraction and sale of bear bile are also suspected of involvement in other illegal activities. Clearly no regard has been given to the life of this endangered bear.

“Solo has been dumped, alone on a construction site. It’s hard to think of anywhere worse for a frightened bear to be. We need to get Solo back to the safety of our sanctuary urgently so we can assess any health concerns and begin the long process of rehabilitation. It will be a huge task, but by the end of the day, Solo’s long years of suffering in that cage should finally be over.

If everything goes smoothly, tonight Solo will be safely back at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre. The full extent of the physical and psychological damage wreaked by so many years in captivity won’t be known until a professional health check has been carried out. But we do know months of rehabilitation and a lifetime of special care will be needed.

Supporters around the world are being asked to give a gift of US$30 to help Solo recover from cruelty.

Animals Asia was the first charity to address the issue of bear bile farming in Vietnam having worked in the country since 1999.

The charity’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre welcomed its first residents in 2007 providing a vital alternative to bears in desperate need of rescue.

A decade after opening the Vietnam sanctuary’s doors, the organisation’s work culminated in 2017 when Animals Asia became the Vietnam government’s official partner to end bear bile farming in the country.

Animals Asia is now leading a monumental project which will see every bear rescued and every farm closed in Vietnam by 2022.