Five bears rescued from years of cruelty on a bear bile farm arrive at rescue centre

05 September 2018

Animals Asia welcomed five moon bears to their Vietnam sanctuary Friday 31 August having freed the endangered animals from a bear bile farm in My Tho, Tien Giang province Monday 27 August.

The bears rescued by Animals Asia this week had been poached as youngsters and held on the farm since then according to the owner, who voluntarily handed the animals over to Animals Asia with the help of the provincial Forest Protection Department and Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV).

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen, who oversaw the rescue, said:

“Ending bear bile farming in Vietnam will require the cooperation of NGOs and government departments and that’s exactly how these five individuals have been freed from so many years of cruelty.

“Working with and coordinating all stakeholders, we’re determined to complete the task the Vietnam government has entrusted to us which is to completely end bear bile farming in Vietnam forever.”

All five bears are suffering from a variety of health conditions due to the cruelty they suffered on the farm.

Half of moon bear Kim’s tongue was torn off in a traumatic injury, while Mai appears to be blind due to cataracts in both eyes.

Mai on farm

During the journey Star and LeBON were given pain relief for broken teeth, while Mekong received antibiotics to control a mouth infection caused by rotten teeth.

The journey to sanctuary at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre lasted five days and 1,700km by road. The team regularly stopped to feed, water and let the bears rest as well as finding them browse from the roadside to allow them to build comfy nests.

Now back at the sanctuary, all the bears will receive full health checks and any necessary surgeries during their 45-day quarantine period.

Animals Asia plans to introduce the bears to progressively larger spaces, integrating them with other bears, and before too long, they will be able to roam large, semi-natural enclosures where they can express their natural behaviours.

V131 Michael, V185 Chom Chom, V186 Wolfie

With moon bears capable of living up to 30 years, it is hoped all five bears will enjoy many happy years at the sanctuary under Animals Asia’s care.

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“We’re beyond delighted to have all five bears safely back at the sanctuary after an arduous rescue for everyone involved. The bears need urgent care to overcome their physical and psychological trauma but we are confident they will be able to recover.

“Their healing starts now and Vietnam is a step closer to the end of a cruel industry which has blighted the country’s reputation for too long.”

Bear bile farming peaked in 2005 when more than 4,000 bears were held on small-scale farms around the country.

Since then numbers have fallen with approximately 800 remaining in private hands today.

Bear bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992. In 2005 the law was tightened to include a ban on bile extraction. However,  with no capacity to care for the thousands of bears on farms, the government allowed farmers to keep bears as long as they promised to no longer extract bile. All farmers required registrations and microchips for their bears, which were tracked by the government.

The MOU signing ceremony of Animals Asia and Vietnam Administration of Forestry

Animals Asia was the first group in Vietnam to campaign against bear bile farming in the 1990’s, and signed a ground-breaking legal agreement with the Vietnam government in 2017, which will see them partner to close every bile farm in the country and send all the bears to sanctuary by 2022.

Animals Asia has also signed an agreement with the Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association to end prescriptions for  bear bile by 2020.

Animals Asia has rescued 193 bears in Vietnam, with their Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre currently home to 178 bears, including the five new arrivals.