Animals Asia is in Vietnam’s Gia Lai province to free two long-suffering moon bears after years of abuse on bear bile farms.
An Animals Asia rescue team has arrived today (Tuesday 11 April) in the remote town of An Khe in Vietnam’s central province of Gia Lai to rescue two moon bears and close a bile farm forever.
The two bears, named Bazan and Wendles by their rescuers, have been held in cages little larger than their bodies for at least a decade so that their bile could be extracted for use in traditional medicine.
With the bears being held around 100 km from the provincial capital of Pleiku, little is known about their condition, but a veterinary team is on hand to provide emergency medical care.
Once successfully cut free from the cages, Bazan and Wendles will be transported over 1,000 kilometres by road, eventually arriving at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Vinh Phuc province on Friday 14 April.
The farm will be closed and the owner never again allowed to keep bears with local Forest Protection Department officials – who were pivotal in closing the farm and ensuring the bears’ release – tasked with monitoring.
Animals Asia will be sharing the journey with its supporters via its website and social media platforms. Meanwhile an emergency appeal to cover the cost of the rescue and the bears’ subsequent rehabilitation has been set up with animal lovers urged to donate.
Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:
“We have received only limited information on the state of the bears so we will need to be ready for anything. Our team is very experienced having rescued more than 170 bears from around Vietnam. No matter the conditions, we’ll get those bears out of there and close this farm down for good.”
The rescue has been anticipated for six years with Animals Asia first being alerted to the farm in 2011. At the time, Animals Asia was rescuing a sun bear called Nelson from the province.
“It feels really good to be back in Gia Lai to get these two bears to safety. Back when we rescued Nelson we told the authorities, keep pressuring the bear farmer – we will be back to help the bears – anytime. Finally, that time has come.”
On bile farms, bears are kept alone in tiny, barren cages. They are fed unsuitable diets, have no health care and are not able to express any natural instincts or behaviour.
During rescues, bears are typically found to be suffering from painful and debilitating diseases and injuries, some of which are life-threatening.
Animals Asia’s Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:
“Poor Bazan and Wendles have had to wait far too long for their suffering to be relieved, but their day has now come. When the sun sets tonight their years of suffering will be hundreds of kilometres behind them and their new lives just beginning. From here there’s only kindness and good things to come.”
Bear bile farming is illegal in Vietnam, but a legal loophole allows farmers to keep bears they have possessed since before 2007. Today more than 1,000 animals remain on small-scale farms around the country earning their keep by having the bile removed from their gall bladder for use in traditional medicine.
Bear bile has been used for thousands of years in Vietnam and China to treat liver and gall bladder conditions. However, today an abundance of cheap, herbal and synthetic alternatives exist, negating any need to cause animal suffering for the medicine.
Bazan and Wendles will be brought to Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre which is currently home to 159 bears, most rescued from the bear bile industry.
At the sanctuary, the bears’ rehabilitation process will begin. They will be given medical attention and surgery to correct any painful or life-threatening conditions and begin eating a healthy, species-specific diet for the first time in their lives.
Eventually, they will be free to explore a large semi-natural enclosure, forage for food and learn to live and play with a community of other bears.
To help fund the rescue of Wendles of Bazan from a lifetime of suffering, and provide them with the life-long care they need to recover, please donate today.