Stars align to save the moon bears from extinction

06 December 2021

Global superstars including Dame Judi Dench, Russell Crowe, Ricky Gervais, Sir Paul McCartney and Richard Gere have come together to support Animals Asia taking a big step towards saving the Asiatic black bear (aka moon bear) species from extinction in Vietnam.

As the Vietnamese Government's official partner in bringing the industry to a close, Animals Asia is rescuing the last remaining bears on bile farms in Vietnam (around 400) and closing the farms for good one by one in the country. Once the last bear is saved, this trade will be history for Vietnam, and we hope this will set a precedent for other countries in the region to follow.

“We're on the cusp of ending bear bile farming in Vietnam forever, bringing to a close an industry that causes decades of suffering for beautiful, forgiving moon bears”, says Animals Asia Founder and CEO Jill Robinson. “Together we can make this historic change happen by putting kindness in action. Please join me and thousands of others in taking the moon bear pledge.”

Celebrities “raise their paws” for the moon bear

In order to raise awareness of this monumental step in biodiversity protection, global stars such as Kim Basinger, Slash, Matt Sorum and Joaquin Phoenix have joined acclaimed conservationist Jane Goodall PhD, DBE and wildlife activist Virginia McKenna in signing Animals Asia’s "Moon Bear Pledge".

“I am so proud to be part of this pledge and to give my support to this campaign - rescuing the moon bear from the cruel practice of bile extraction”, says Dame Judi Dench. “Animals Asia has taken a major step forward in partnership with the people of Vietnam to end this practice and secure a better future for these beautiful animals.”

Renowned actor, director and writer Stephen Fry calls animal lovers around the world to join him in signing the pledge: “Please don’t stand by and let these incredible animals fade away. This is one problem we can all fix. Raise your paw for the moon bear.” 

A new sanctuary in Vietnam to leave no bears behind

Bear bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992 but has persisted due to legal loopholes and continued demand. The poaching of bears from the wild to stock these bile farms has pushed the Asiatic black bear onto the endangered species list in Vietnam. But in 2017 after years of careful negotiation, the Vietnam government agreed to end bear bile farming once and for all and signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Animals Asia, naming the charity their official partner in bringing the industry to a close. 

The most up-to-date surveys show there are around 400 bears on farms, but rescuing this number and providing them with sanctuary for the rest of their lives will require a huge effort. As Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao approaches its full capacity, a new sanctuary needs to be built before the organisation can finish rescuing the bears remaining on farms. 

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen emphasizes the importance of this new sanctuary for the conservation and rewilding of moon bears:

“Overall, in Vietnam, there is no doubt that bear bile farming caused the massive decline in the wild bear population. We can save the wild bear population if we can end bear farming and rescue all farmed bears to sanctuaries. There are still some wild bears in Vietnam, but unless bear farming is ended, they will eventually become extinct.”