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FOUR PAWS ends bile bear keeping in Vietnam Ninh Binh province with rescue of bears May and Binh Yen

27.04.2018 - 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, their time of suffering is finally over.


Today, international animal protection organisation FOUR PAWS rescued the two Asiatic black bears from their tiny metal cages and brought them to BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, which was built by the organisation in 2017.


May and Binh Yen are the last bile bears on a farm in Ninh Binh province. With their rescue, the animal protection organisation was able to end the keeping of bile bears in the entire province. Unfortunately, in other provinces of Vietnam, around 1,000 bears are still suffering on bear farms, and humans continue to illegally extract their bile using cruel methods.


May and Binh Yen are currently in the quarantine station of BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, where they will receive medical care from FOUR PAWS veterinarians and caretakers. A lifetime of abuse as bile bears have left physical scars 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,” said veterinarian Dr. Johanna Painer who accompanied the rescue.


Over the coming weeks, May and Binh Yen will receive intensive medical care from the FOUR PAWS veterinarians. The team is hoping that after quarantine and a period of familiarisation with the bear house, both bears might be able to move into their large newly built outdoor enclosure in about five weeks.


The suffering of the bile bears in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the few countries in Asia that has taken legal action against the keeping of bile bears. However, it is imperative that existing laws are implemented consistently.

“We are glad that we were able to end the keeping of bile bears in Ninh Binh with the support of the local authorities,” said Kieran Harkin, Head of International Wild Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.

“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.”


The bear bile business is flourishing despite alternatives

Bear bile has been used as a remedy for eye infections, bruises, indigestion and other conditions in traditional Chinese medicine for several thousand years.


Despite the fact that there are better herbal and synthetic alternatives available, bear bile is still a sought-after product in many Asian countries. The possession, sale and consumption of bear bile in Vietnam has been banned since 2005, however, the illegal trade of bear bile can still be found on Vietnam’s streets, in traditional Chinese medicine shops, on bile bear farms as well as on the Internet.


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 an effort to ensure that no new bears entered the farms.


Bile bears, who remain property of the state, were to be looked after by the farmers until their transfer to a local sanctuary or natural death. Bear farmers were also required to sign a declaration to never again extract bile. In 2017, the Vietnamese government also issued a statement on their intent to end bear farming and begin rescuing bears. FOUR PAWS supports the efforts of the government through their efforts with the launch of an international campaign and by conducting rescue missions.  


FOUR PAWS is asking people to sign its petition encouraging the Vietnamese government to do whatever it takes to put an end to bear farming:


FOUR PAWS aims to hand over the signatures of one million people to the Vietnamese government. More than 750,000 signatures have already been collected.

For more information, images or comments, please contact:
Elise Burgess
Head of Communications
FOUR PAWS Australia
T: 02 9198 4417

© Hoang Le | FOUR PAWS

© Hoang Le | FOUR PAWS

© Hoang Le | FOUR PAWS

© Hoang Le | FOUR PAWS