Suffering is finally over for two Vietnamese bile bears, May and Binh Yen, who lived most of their lives in agony on a bear farm in the Vietnamese province of Ninh Binh. In April 2018, we rescued the two Asiatic black bears from their tiny metal cages and brought them to BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, opened in 2017. May and Binh Yen were the last bile bears to languish on a farm in Ninh Binh province. Their rescue marked the end to the keeping of bile bears in the entire region. Sadly, in other provinces of Vietnam, more than 936 bears are still suffering on bear farms as humans continue to illegally extract their bile using cruel methods.
May and Binh Yen were taken to the quarantine station at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Here, they will receive medical care from FOUR PAWS veterinarians and animal caretakers. A lifetime of abuse has left appalling, physical marks on them.
“The ultrasound showed Binh Yen’s gallbladder and liver have changed significantly. A scar at the entrance of the gallbladder clearly indicates abuse as a bile bear. Sadly, her condition is critical.”
Vet Dr. Johanna Painer from Vienna's Veterinary University
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The suffering of Vietnam's bile bears is not yet over
Vietnam is one of the few countries in Asia to have taken legal action against the keeping of bile bears. However, it is imperative that existing laws are implemented more consistently. Kieran Harkin, Head of International Wild Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS, stated: “We are glad that we were able to end the keeping of bile bears in Ninh Binh with the support of the local authorities. Unfortunately, in many other provinces of Vietnam bile extraction is still happening. We have 38 free spots at our BEAR SANCTUARY and we are ready to welcome this many suffering bears to a happy life free of pain as soon as possible. Therefore, with the support of hundreds of thousands of animal friends, we urge the Vietnamese government to vigorously pursue the promised closure of all remaining bear farms.”
May, Thai Van & Thai Giang
After lenghty observation of the behaviour of all three bears, the team at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr decided to socialise May with Thai Van and Thai Giang. Now May is able to enjoy the outdoors and beautiful greenery with her two companions. Together they form the first group of three bears at our BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh.
Binh Yen & Misa
Just like May, Binh Yen is no longer alone. She has befriended bear Misa who was rescued in January 2018 and taken to our BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. We are so relieved and happy that both are now socialised with other recovering bears. Life is better together – for bears, too.
The bear bile business
Bear bile has been used as a remedy in traditional Chinese medicine for several thousand years and is still a sought-after product in many Asian countries. Although the sale and consumption of bear bile is banned in Vietnam, an estimated 1,300 bears are still suffering on around 400 farms.
Joint mission against animal cruelty
In 2005, the government launched a campaign to phase out bear farming in Vietnam through pressure on bear keepers. All captive bears were registered and microchipped as part of efforts to ensure that no new bears enter farms. The bears, which became the property of the state, were to be looked after by farmers until their transfer to a local sanctuary or their natural death. Bear farmers were also required to sign a declaration pledging to never again extract bile. In 2017, the Vietnamese government additionally issued a statement of intent on ending bear farming and rescuing bears. In addition to supporting these measures and conducting its own rescue missions, FOUR PAWS has also launched an international campaign. Animal lovers worldwide can sign a petition to encourage the Vietnamese government to do whatever it takes to put an end to bear farming.