Three bears rescued in Vietnam, ending bear bile in Lang Son
The three bears were the last remaining bile bears in Lang Son and the province is now the 40th bear-free province in Vietnam.
"Bear bile farming is illegal in Vietnam, but this hasn’t stopped the suffering of the remaining hundreds of bears who still live a torturous life in captivity for their bile."
Three captive Asiatic bears have been rescued from the horrific abuse of bear bile farming in Lang son province in North Vietnam. The exploitation of captive bears for their bile is one of the worst examples of animal cruelty in the world today.
World Animal Protection, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), and Animals Asia Foundation came together with local authorities for the rescue to ensure the four bears could live out the rest of their lives at a sanctuary run by Animals Asia Foundation in Vĩnh Phúc, 80 km northwest of Hanoi.
The three bears were initially identified during a microchipping trip in 2019 on the Lang Son farm.
Ready for freedom
World Animal Protection has been working with the government to register and microchip all bears living on farms across the country and monitoring them with inspections. This is to ensure that no new bears enter captivity for the bile industry. Any bears found without registration papers or microchips are confiscated and transferred to government rescue centres or a non-government organisation sanctuary.
Although the three bears were microchipped, one was discovered to be illegal as it did not originally have a microchip and had to be confiscated, while the owner chose to voluntarily give up the two remaining bears to the sanctuary after being persuaded by the monitoring team to do so.
The bears are around 21 years old and were kept in very poor conditions in small concrete cages measuring 1.5 metres wide and 1.8 metres high, with lack of natural sunlight.
The rescue took place on Friday, June 25. The three bears were transferred onto a truck and driven to the sanctuary. The transportation went smoothly, and they are now settling into their new surroundings where they will live a life free of cruelty and suffering.
The good news comes after the rescue of Cam the bear from a bear bile farm in the Hai Phong province in April.
Ending the bear bile industry
For over 15 years, World Animal Protection and other partnering NGOs have worked with the Vietnamese government, fighting to end the cruel practice of bear bile farming and protect the small population of bears remaining in the wild. Collective efforts have resulted in over a 90% reduction in the number of bile bears in Vietnam, from 4,300 bears recorded in 2005 to 346 bears on farms today.
Bear bile farming is not only cruel and the cause of horrific stress and suffering to animals, but it also poses a negative reputational risk to Vietnam. While significant progress has been made across the country, Hanoi province is lagging far behind and remains the country’s number one bear bile farming hotspot, with 162 bears, accounting for 44% of the total bile bears in Vietnam. The authorities in Hanoi must step up and enforce the law and actively convince farmers to give up their bears.
Maya Pastakia, Global Campaign Manager – Wildlife, Not Medicine, at World Animal Protection said:
“Bear bile farming is illegal in Vietnam, but this hasn’t stopped the suffering of the remaining hundreds of bears who still live a torturous life in captivity for their bile.
“These bears were kept in tiny cages - not much larger than a telephone booth – for as long as 21 years. 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 once and for all to end the barbaric practice of bear bile farming.”
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Images: World Animal Protection / Nguyen Van Tuyen