Nine captive bears rescued from bile farms in Vietnam
In the largest bear rescue World Animal Protection has ever supported, nine bears have finally been rescued from three farms in south Vietnam last week.
Bear bile extraction was made illegal in Vietnam in 2005, but farmers are still allowed to keep bears as ‘pets’, which provides cover for illegal bear bile farming.
World Animal Protection has been working in partnership with the Forest Protection Department in Vietnam - a central authority in charge of forestry and wildlife (Central FPD) – for a bear microchipping and monitoring program.
Once each bear has a microchip it will be checked in about twice a year to prevent new bears from the wild entering the facilities. In addition, this program is also to convince bear farmers to give up their bears.
We have worked tirelessly with all three farm owners to convince them to voluntarily surrender the bears to sanctuaries. Due to COVID-19, previous rescue missions had to be postponed. Having spent years trapped in dark, narrow cages, with inadequate food, some of the bears are thin, weak and small.
After lengthy negotiations, the farmers agreed to transfer the nine bears from Binh Duong province. They were moved to a bear sanctuary, run by Four Paws, in Ninh Binh province on 10-11 February.
The rescue team visited two farms, last Thursday (10 February '22). At Vu Van Hien farm, two bears, a 190kg female and a 185kg male, were anesthetised and had health checks before being transported. The second farm, Nguyen Ngoc Tien, voluntarily surrendered four bears who did not need to be anesthetised and even seemed very excited.
The team rescued three more bears from Huynh Thi My farm on Friday, 11 February. They were anesthetised, had health checks, and transported. The bears are very small, weighing between 50-60kg each, due to poor care. Their former owner says he hopes they will have better lives.
Maya Pastakia, Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection said:
“This is the largest bear rescue World Animal Protection has ever supported, and this huge milestone means we are now nine bears closer to a bear-bile-free Vietnam.
“Despite the strides made to end bear farming in Vietnam, hundreds of bears are still suffering a tortuous life in captivity for their bile. These nine bears were kept in tiny cages - not much larger than a telephone booth – for at least 17 years, which is when they were first microchipped. While they are the ‘lucky ones’ who are now free from cruelty, the scars from their extreme physical and psychological suffering will last their lifetime.
“The government of Vietnam must close all remaining legal loopholes and prohibit farmers from keeping their caged bears as pets in order to end the barbaric and illegal practice of bear bile farming.”
All nine bears will now enjoy their lives at the Four Paws sanctuary. They can live free from cruelty and suffering, receive excellent care and be closer to nature where they belong. In 2005 the number of bears on farms in Vietnam was 4,300. Today there are fewer than 314, a 93% reduction. These rescues bring us nine bears closer to a bear-bile-free Vietnam.
Magdalena Scherk-Trettin, FOUR PAWS bear projects coordinator said:
“This is FOUR PAWS biggest bear rescue mission to date and we are thrilled that we can give nine more former bile bears a second chance at our species-appropriated bear sanctuary in Ninh Binh.
"Our experienced team will make sure all nine new arrivals receive all the care they need to recover from their past suffering. We already rescued 18 bears from Binh Duong province, which shows that the province is working hard towards the governmental goal to phase out bile bear farming in Vietnam.
"With every rescued bear, we are one step closer to ending bear farming in Vietnam for good. We are looking forward to the day when the last bear will be rescued from the last bear farm in Vietnam. Especially capital Hanoi needs to step up its efforts to achieve this goal.”
Closer to a bear-bile-free Vietnam
Bear bile farming is one of the worst forms of institutionalised animal cruelty in the world today. It is wholly unjustified as there are herbal and non-bear bile alternatives. With safe and cheap alternatives, bears are suffering unnecessarily.
This rescue comes as we celebrate our 30-year anniversary working to protect bears. During this period, we have rescued and rehomed hundreds of bears around the world, designed and funded 12 bear sanctuaries globally, and worked in 25 countries to help captive bears. This is in addition to the mass sterilization initiatives, consumer campaigns, and government lobbying we have implemented.
World Animal Protection will continue to work until all provinces in Vietnam are free from this cruel practice.
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“The government of Vietnam must close all remaining legal loopholes and prohibit farmers from keeping their caged bears as pets in order to end the barbaric and illegal practice of bear bile farming.