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FOUR PAWS rescues five bears from agonising conditions in Vietnam

The former bile bears have found a new home at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh


International animal protection organisation FOUR PAWS has rescued a total of five Asiatic black bears from three different bear farms on 11th and 12th March, as part of its long term campaign to end bile bear farming in Vietnam.


FOUR PAWS succeeded in rescuing five former bile bears - Keo, Lim, Dieu, San and Khoai Lang - from the Vietnamese provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai. After the bears had been examined, the team travelled over 1,600 kilometres in a 40-hour journey to bring the animals to their new home, the FOUR PAWS-owned BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh.


“We are happy that we could free all five bears from their cages. The first medical checks have revealed some health problems, but we are certain we can treat them conservatively in the next few weeks at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh,” said Dr Johanna Painer, veterinarian at the Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine, who accompanied the rescues and transfer.


Bear Keo in particular was lying depressed in her cage when the team arrived. Her medical examination showed that she must have suffered from terrible pain.

“Keo’s teeth are in horrible condition and she suffers from severe inflammation of the liver and gall bladder. Bear San suffers from massive hair loss due to the cruel and unhygienic keeping conditions. The condition of the gall bladders of all examined bears shows that they had to endure regular bile extractions,” said Dr Painer.


Unresolved deaths on bear farm

FOUR PAWS had originally planned to rescue seven bile bears from Dong Nai Province in southern Vietnam and bring them to the sanctuary. Tragic circumstances, however, thwarted the plan, with four bears dying within a week on the same farm under yet unknown circumstances.


FOUR PAWS is calling on the Vietnamese authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the cause of death. It is known that bear owners have been killing their animals to capitalise on their organs. Should this be the case with the four deceased bears, FOUR PAWS demands a strict crackdown on those responsible.


“Approximately 800 bears live in cramped metal cages in Vietnam,” said Jeroen van Kernebeek, Country Director of FOUR PAWS Australia, which is based in Sydney and advocates for animal protection in Australia and South East Asia.


“They suffer, and some still have their bile cruelly extracted. The Vietnamese government has made bear bile extraction illegal and has taken commendable steps over the last decade to reduce bear farming. But more urgent action is needed to save the bears and end bear farming in Vietnam. That is why we are asking caring Australians to help us lobby the Vietnamese government to officially close all bear farms now.”


Sanctuary will offer space for a total of 100 bears

At the sanctuary, all five rescued bears can now recover from their past suffering. Twelve other bears are already enjoying their new life in its natural environment. Once all construction work has been completed, BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh will cover 10 hectares of land and provide space for up to 100 rescued bears. Built according to modern standards, the sanctuary has its own veterinary clinic, a quarantine station, two bear houses, and four outdoor enclosures.


Since its official opening on 7 March 2019, locals and tourists from around the world are able to see how formerly abused bears are gradually regaining their natural instincts and living species-appropriate lives. In the spacious open-air enclosures, the bears have access to ponds, trees, climbing and hiding places to pass the time. The sanctuary not only represents a new home for former bile bears, it is also intended to promote animal and species conservation in Vietnam as an educational and awareness-raising centre. 


Australians can add their name to FOUR PAWS' petition to close all bear farms in Vietnam here.

Watch a video of one of the bear rescues on Facebook Live!