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BREAKING NEWS: Captive moon bear being rescued right now in Vietnam

08 August 2017

An Animals Asia rescue team is in the north-western mountains of Vietnam to rescue an adult moon bear believed to have been kept as an exotic pet.

The team arrived in the town of Sin Ho today (08 August) to rescue the bear they’ve nicknamed Rocky.

The bear is believed to have been kept in a small cage as an “exotic pet” for at least 12 years. The bear’s gender is unknown and it is unclear yet whether bile has ever been extracted.

Follow the live #RockyFree rescue timeline for updates.

Sin Ho is 1,500 metres above sea level in the mountains of Lai Chau province – presenting a logistical challenge for the team, who must safely make it back approximately 400km to Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

With the rescue taking place within Vietnam’s rainy season – and landslides reported in nearby areas – the team are hoping for a favourable forecast for the trip.

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:

“Rescues from remote areas are always difficult. The steep, winding roads and fast changing weather conditions mean progress is always slow, but we are hopeful of getting this new member of the family safely home as soon as possible.

“We know precious little at this point about the bear so we’ll be ready for anything. Our veterinary team are hugely experienced and will be able to provide any medical care necessary on site.”

The rescue team expect to arrive at Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary in Vinh Phuc province on Wednesday 9 August.

Animals Asia supporters can follow the rescue live via Facebook, Twitter and the live timeline.

Animals Asia founder and CEO Jill Robinson said:

“We don’t know yet the origin of the bear but pictures show the poor conditions on site. Clearly this animal’s basic needs have not been met in a very long time, and we are hoping the damage to body and mind will be manageable.

“Right now, we need to get this bear out of that tiny cage and back to our sanctuary so she or he can begin to properly recover and leave fear and pain behind. The first job is to remove any trauma the bear is suffering.”

Last month, Animals Asia and the Vietnam government signed a legally binding agreement to completely end bear bile farming in the Southeast Asian country by 2023.

While work to realise the agreement continues, today’s rescue is not specifically part of the MOU. It is hoped the first bears to be rescued as part of the MOU will begin to move to sanctuaries next year.

To date, Animals Asia has rescued over 600 bears – mostly from bile farms in Vietnam and China. Nearly 400 bears continue to be cared for at the Hong Kong-based NGO’s sanctuaries in China and Vietnam.