• United States
  • International
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Hong Kong (EN)
  • Hong Kong (繁)
  • French
  • China
  • Vietnam

BREAKING: Rescue operation to free two endangered bear cubs from Vietnamese circus begins following Animals Asia exposé

24 April 2019

Rescue team arrives at Central Circus in Hanoi, Vietnam to rescue two juvenile moon bears a protected species filmed openly performing on stage during investigation.

Today (Wednesday 24 April) an Animals Asia rescue team has arrived at Hanoi’s Central Circus to rescue two juvenile moon bear cubs who were spotted performing on stage at the facility.

Moon bears are an endangered species protected under Vietnamese law with their poaching, trade and commercial exploitation a criminal offense.

The rescue team will bring the bears, whom the team has named Sugar and Spice, to Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre where they will receive immediate care and attention.

Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:

“It’s quite clear that these cubs have found themselves in Hanoi’s Central Circus through illegal means. Thankfully, the authorities have acted swiftly and firmly, sending a clear message to those who exploit wild species that they are not above the law.

“For Sugar and Spice the nightmare of poaching, training, performing and a completely unsuitable living environment ends today. From now on their needs come first and we can begin to heal the physical and psychological suffering they have endured.”

The bears were first discovered by an Animals Asia investigative team which visited the circus in March to monitor the treatment of animals in performances.

The team was shocked to discover the two moon bear cubs – who are estimated to weigh around 50 kilogrammes each and be less than a year old – openly performing dangerous tricks on stage in a clear breach of Vietnamese law.

Following Animals Asia’s exposé, the government intervened and swiftly determined the bears be rescued and sent to the safety of Animals Asia’s nearby sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park, Vinh Phuc province.

Animals Asia’s 2017 report into animal performance revealed six protected species – moon bears, orangutans, macaques, elephants, pythons and crocodiles – were being exploited at circuses across Vietnam.

DSC_2166

 

To date, no facility has been able to explain the origin of their protected species, yet today’s rescue marks the first time the authorities have taken punitive action against a circus or tourist facility in possession of a protected species.

With facilities unable to breed bears and their poaching and sale illegal, serious questions remain as to how the animals are being obtained.

In a letter to Animals Asia, Hanoi Central Circus claimed the bear cubs were brought to the circus completely at random by two men who were seeking medical help for the cubs.

Having nursed the bears back to health, trainers then taught the animals some tricks leading to a stage show in front of audiences.

Implausibly, the circus also claims they did not inform the authorities about the bears because they believed the original owners would return to collect them.

Moon bear riding a motorbike

 

Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“This could be a real breakthrough in efforts to curb wildlife crime in Vietnam’s animal entertainment industry. Circuses appear to have flouted Vietnam’s laws and exploited protected species with relative impunity until now.

“The rescue of Sugar and Spice will change their lives forever sparing them years of abuse, but it is also a spark of hope that the authorities may be willing to take a closer look at other facilities exploiting endangered and protected species in the country.”

Animals Asia is currently petitioning the Vietnam government to ban wild animal performance and send the animals to recognised rescue centres and sanctuaries.

The petition currently has more than 120,000 signatures and will be presented to the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism during a meeting with the charity in May.

Hanoi Central Circus is also believed to be holding eight adult moon bears and a 30-year-old elephant, as well as a number of pythons, crocodiles and macaques – all species protected from exploitation by Vietnamese law.

Sugar and Spice are two traumatised bear cubs, just months old. They have been poached from the wild and their mother very likely killed in front of their eyes because she would never let them go without a fight.

With no survival skills, Animals Asia will care for them for the rest of their lives. It’s a huge commitment - potentially up to 30 years - but one we unflinchingly make because without us these bears have nobody.

Now we need YOU to help mend the psychological trauma meted out to these two poor babies; to teach them how to be bears and to give them a safe environment which will challenge, stimulate and delight them for the rest of their lives. Please, give what you can today to save Sugar and Spice and give them new lives worth living.

DONATE: www.animalsasia.org/donate

Asian elephant forced to perform clearly damaging tricks

 


BACK