First four of 14 “bile bears” rescued in Vietnam

24 June 2015

Four moon bears from bile farms in Vietnam are on their way to a better life after being rescued by animal welfare charity Animals Asia.

Their rescue is part of a four-day mission (23 June to June 26) that will free a total of 14 bears and deliver them to the safety of the charity’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

The moon bears were rescued from two separate farms in northern Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province. The rescue team arrived at the first farm at 8am local time.

Moon bear Angelica being moved onto rescue truck

Tuan Bendixsen, Animals Asia Vietnam Director, said:

“The farmer was keeping eight bears in all, but has only agreed with local authorities to the transfer of two. The two he handed over were clearly the weakest and it was difficult to have to leave behind six others whose condition was not much better. But rest assured - we will be back for the other six.”

The pair has been named Cinnamon and Angelica - a reminder of traditional herbal alternatives to bear bile.

Moon bear Cinnamon in a cage on Nhuong bear bile farm

Angelica was missing one entire paw, while another paw had been significantly mutilated with missing claws. Cinnamon was very underweight and was extremely nervous about leaving her cage.

Animals Asia Senior Veterinarian Joost Philippa said:

“Both bears are physically very weak and didn’t eat all of the food that was given to them. Both are suffering from missing claws and even entire paws and are generally not healthy at all.”

Moon bear Angelica in her cage on Nhuong bear bile farm

Once the two were safely loaded aboard the truck, the team visited a second farm a kilometre away where they rescued bears Shanti and Cinta.

Joost Philippa said:

“Shanti has quite a bit of scarring on her liver - most likely from bile extraction - and has impaired vision from cataracts in both of her eyes. We don’t know yet if surgery could give Shanti her sight back, but certainly she’ll require dental surgery.

Moon bear Shanti in cage on Ty bear bile farm

“Cinta is a very thin male with several broken teeth. We didn’t discover too much more during the health check and are looking forward to getting him back to surgery so that we can find out more about his condition.”

Moon bear Cinta in cage on Ty bear bile farm

The fours bears are headed to Animals Asia Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

Tuan Bendixsen said:

“Today went as smoothly as we could possibly hope and we are delighted that the first day of this epic rescue mission was such a success - fingers crossed the next few days go just as well.

“This week will see Quang Ninh province come very close to being bear bile farm free. We will keep on fighting and campaigning until every last captive bear in the province suffering has been moved to our sanctuary.”

The team's pleased smile at a good day of the rescueBears being taken to quarantine