Bear cubs Bé and Em at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh

Bear Cubs Tied in Sack and Offered for Sale in Vietnam

FOUR PAWS rescues two Asiatic black bears from the illegal wildlife trade


Ninh Binh, 20 May 2022 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has rescued two female Asiatic black bear cubs that were confiscated by the authorities in Lai Chau province in northwestern Vietnam on 13 May. The authorities arrested a man carrying around a suspicious looking sack, in which he had the bear cubs. He confessed to having caught them in a cardamom field and wanting to sell them.

The authorities asked FOUR PAWS to take the cubs into its care at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Bé and Em, who are most likely siblings, have arrived safely at their new home and will receive all the care they need to grow into healthy bears. FOUR PAWS welcomes the efforts of the Vietnamese authorities to enforce existing laws and combat wildlife crime.

A FOUR PAWS team made its way from BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh to Lai Chau province in an eleven-hour journey. After checking on the bear cubs and a long journey back, they arrived at the bear sanctuary on 15 May.

“Both cubs are very small, only weighing 2.4 and 3.3. kilograms but otherwise they are in good health. We will provide them with an appropriate diet so they can grow up healthy. At the moment they mostly eat, play, and sleep but we can already see their individual personalities showing. Bé is very playful and confident, while Em for now is more reserved but nonetheless curious. We commend the authorities for stepping in and making sure these animals do not have to suffer any further,”

says Emily Lloyd, Animal Manager at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh.

In recent years, the team at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh has hand-raised five bear cubs rescued from similar circumstances as Bé and Em and are therefore highly experienced with the needs of such young bears. Releasing the bear cubs back into the wild is not possible. There are no safe wild places in Vietnam and no projects set up to reintroduce bear cubs into the wild. Moreover, the preparation of cubs for life in the wild is a huge undertaking. At BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, they will have a life-long and species-appropriate home among conspecifics.

Wildlife trade in Vietnam

The legal and illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam is a billion-dollar industry which sees animals taken from the wild and bred in captivity to be sold in markets, restaurants, online and used in pseudo-traditional medicines throughout the country. Since 2005 it is forbidden by law in Vietnam to hunt, trap, possess, kill, sell, or advertise bear or bear products in an effort not only to tackle the illegal wildlife trade but mainly to end bear farming. However, while the bear bile industry is reclining, the illegal wildlife trade is flourishing and millions of wild animals like Bé and Em continue to suffer.

Due to a penal code revised in 2018 illegal wildlife trafficking can now lead into a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison depending on the severity of the crime. Prison sentences are becoming the new norm for court trials for serious wildlife crime in Vietnam, and 43 offenders have been convicted for five or more years between 2018 and 2020.

BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh: A species-appropriate home for rescued bears

FOUR PAWS has been working with local partners since 2017 to rescue as many bears as possible from their sad fate. With its bear sanctuary in Ninh Binh, FOUR PAWS is supporting the Vietnamese government to contribute to an end of bear farming in Vietnam and provide a species-appropriate home for rescued bears. BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh is not only a safe home for former bile bears and bears that are victims of the illegal wildlife trade, but also, an awareness and education centre for wildlife conservation in Vietnam. With the newly rescued bear cubs it currently houses 49 Asiatic black bears.

Asiatic black bears are native to Vietnam and on the brink of local extinction because of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade where demand for their parts and derivatives remains.

Asiatic black bear at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh

Find out more about BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh

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Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations

+43 (0) 664 885 33 270

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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