Hoa Lan and Hoa Tra suffered for over 12 years in tiny cages on a bear farm in the province of Thai Nguyen. The cages lacked light, fresh water and space for movement. The two bears were forced to live in very poor conditions since they were sold to a bile bear farm when they were still little cubs.
The two bile bears were rescued successfully in August and arrived safe and sound in their new home, the BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Years of cruel keeping on the bile farm had left its marks on the two bears. Hoa Lan’s teeth especially were in a terrible condition and our on-site vet had to treat the bear already during the first vet check.
Both bears were taken to the quarantine station where they received intensive medical care and got used to bear-friendly food! After recovering in the first weeks, they were moved to the bear house and afterwards will be released into a large outdoor enclosure.
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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.”
After years of physical separation from other bears, Hoa Lan and Hoa Tra have been socialised at our BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. We hope that they will enjoy their new home and settle into their outdoor enclosure together.
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 Vietnamese government launched a campaign to phase out bear farming. All captive bears were registered and microchipped as part of efforts to ensure that no new bears enter the farms. The bears, which became state property, 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 end to bear farming.