HAPPENING NOW: Animals Asia is rescuing nine bears from a bile farm in Vietnam

26 June 2017

Caged for over a decade - nine bears from a Vietnamese bile farm are set for rescue ahead of a 1,500km journey to their new home. YOU can help and follow it all LIVE.

Animals Asia’s bear rescue team has arrived in Binh Duong province near Ho Chi Minh City ahead of a major nine bear rescue.

The team will remove each bear from his or her cage individually. Each will be anaesthetised and lifted out into a transport cage.

Two Animals Asia vets will be on hand to oversee what’s being called the “9Lives” rescue with two vet nurses and a bear manager also making the long trip home with the bears to monitor their condition.

Donate today to the cost of the rescue and the future rehabilitation of these bears.

Bear bile is used in traditional medicine and these bears are likely to have faced repeated extractions for over a decade. While the bile trade is illegal in Vietnam, farmers have continued to use loopholes to avoid criminal charges.

In this instance this is a voluntary handover by the farmers.

The team is expected to arrive at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre - around an hour north of Hanoi - on Friday June 30. The bears will then start a 45-day quarantine ahead of ongoing rehabilitation that will hopefully eventually see them step out into the sunshine for the first time in over 10 years.

Leading the rescue is Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen. Tuan has taken part in the rescue of 177 bears, with Animals Asia continuing to care for over 160 at its sanctuary.

Speaking yesterday, Tuan said:

“This is a huge undertaking and we need the support of the bears’ many friends across the world to make it happen and to fund their future rehabilitation. These bears have collectively spent nearly 100 years behind bars and now we have the chance to free them. We know little of their mental and physical state so we start the rescue prepared for any outcome.

“The rescue team are massively experienced, but this is one of the most testing rescues to date. Once the bears are cut free from their cages we will need to keep them calm during the long trip and continue to monitor them for any medical issues.”

Typically bears that have been caged for so long suffer from damaged teeth from trying to bite their way through cage bars and will require extensive dental treatment. Damage to their gall bladders may mean they need to have them removed. Bears can also be missing limbs from being snared in the wild, while skin conditions caused by a number of factors including diet and “stereotyping” - which sees bears so traumatised they continue rubbing themselves against cage bars - are also common.

Animals Asia is sharing footage and pictures from the rescue to a live timeline on their website which can be viewed here. Supporters can also follow and share the updates via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

There are believed to be around 1,000 bears still caged on bile farms in Vietnam and a further 10,000 in China. To date, Animals Asia has rescued almost 600 bears in Vietnam and China.