Learning how to help stop the spread of COVID-19 with the bears

01 October 2020


On Tuesday 29 September 2020, Animals Asia together with Bong Khe Primary school in Con Cuong district, held a drawing competition on the theme of ‘Me and Bears join hands to prevent Covid 19’.

The school is in a mountainous area two and a half hours’ drive from the district of Nghe An in Central Vietnam and serves the Dan Lai ethnic minority community which speaks a mixture of Vietnamese and Thai.

The headmaster of the school said:

“Our school really appreciates the cooperation between Animals Asia and us, through many activities and competitions so far. And we hope that this will be a long term cooperation for a sustainable future”

The contest began at the start of the school year, reminding students throughout Bong Khe Primary School about good practices and habits to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and these practices were reinforced with a bear protection message.

The contest asked the children demonstrate ways to be COVID aware, such as washing hands, keeping a safe distance and wearing masks in public with an illustration of sun bears and moon bears. The first prizes of the contest were selected to make a wall mural at school.

The competition garnered 167 entries. Two first prizes were awarded to two students Phan Thi Chau Anh and Le Thi Khanh Ly, students of class 5A1. In addition, two second prizes were also awarded, as well as prizes for all 500 children in the participating school to mark the mid-autumn children’s festival.


Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Dr. Tuan Bendixsen commented:

“This competition was really engaging and helped convey two simple but important messages: how to combat COVID-19 and why we must protect bears.

“This activity is especially meaningful as the school is in a mountainous area where people have to cope with so many difficulties in life. The teachers and students here are enduring many hardships to maintain the joy of learning, so our care and activities are hugely appreciated and the kids are happy to participate and look forward to our visits and activities.”

Tuan Bendixsen also quizzed the children about their knowledge of sun and moon bears and as you can see there were lots of eager and knowledgeable students ready to answer his questions. The students also performed a choreographed bear flashmob following the moon bears’ hand washing steps.


Why we chose Bong Khe for Animals Asia's education programmes?

Nghe An province is in the top three bear farming regions in Vietnam, just after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. 

In Con Cuong area alone, 6 bears are still in captivity. The students of Bong Khe primary school mostly come from the Dan Lai ethnic minority community, who live close by to Pu Mat National Park – a primeval forest at east side of Truong Son Range, the biggest mountain range of the country. 

Con Cuong shares a border with Laos and is regarded as a hotspot for the wildlife trade and hunting. Between mid-2016 to the end of 2018, the Pu Mat National Park rangers removed over 8,500 traps from the forest. The outreach work that Animals Asia is doing at Bong Khe School helps to raise awareness to not only the students, but also to the parents and the surrounding community.

We hope that the children will be the new young generation to protect wildlife, nature and respect the environment. Animals Asia believes a friendly and creative environment is the best way to create an education program to encourage harmony with nature and wildlife.


Since 2018 Animals Asia’s education team has developed various extracurricular activities for the school students, including setting up a herbal garden on the campus, with many walls in the school now decorated with beautiful bear murals. There is a creative Bear Book Shelf in the school yard. Lots of competitions are organised on a regular basis and teachers have been invited to bring their outstanding students to visit the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

It’s so delightful to see the next generation learning about the bears and cherishing them, at the same time learning important life-skills which make living through a global pandemic less scary. The route to ending bear bile farming for good is through engaging people of all ages and putting kindness in action.

Read more: Vietnamese school children make the case for freeing caged bears