Last week, FOUR PAWS global animal welfare organization rescued its 50th bear in Vietnam,the last bear used for its bile in Son La Province.
The rescued female Asiatic black bear named “Tu Do” was taken to BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Prior to her rescue, 21-year-old Tu Do was kept in a small cage in a private backyard and abused for painful bile extraction.
While production and demand for bear bile has been declining in recent years in Vietnam, 324 bears still suffer on bear farms. Capital Hanoi remains the bear farming hotspot, with 158 bears kept in cruel conditions. FOUR PAWS is calling on the Vietnamese government to better enforce regulations on bear keeping and to end bear farming for good in Hanoi and across the country.
In a one-day rescue mission, the FOUR PAWS team made its way from BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh to the province of Son La to examine bear Tu Do before her departure. After a six-hour journey, she reached her new home, where she is now receiving all the care she needs.
“The rescue of Tu Do went very smoothly. When we arrived, she was calm, friendly, and curious. She’s a very small bear and a little underweight,” said Emily Lloyd, animal manager at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, in a statement. “The health check revealed gallstones, which means she will need surgery to remove her gallbladder in the future. Sadly, she also has moderate liver and dental disease. We will now provide dedicated care for her and begin her rehabilitation to a better life.”
The rescue of Tu Do is the 20thbear rescue carried out by FOUR PAWS in Vietnam. Since the opening of its BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh in Vietnam in 2017, the animal welfare organization has rescued 50 bears, mostly from bear farms, but also from wildlife trafficking. As a result of having been previously exposed to poor conditions and cruelty, ten bears have died over the years.
The decline of bear farming in Vietnam affects bear bile production, but demand is an important factor as well when it comes to the abuse of bears for their bile. According to a new study on the link between the end of bear farming and consumer choice, bear bile consumers in Vietnam are willing to switch to non-animal-based products for the treatment of ailments, including herbal alternatives and Western medicine. Therefore, the reduced availability of bear bile and the eventual closure of all bear farms is not expected to lead to a rise in demand for poaching and wild bear bile in Vietnam.
Asiatic black bears are native to Vietnam and on the brink of local extinction. This is due to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade where demand for their parts and derivatives remains.
Since Vietnam banned the sale and possession of bear bile in 2005, the number of bears kept on bear farms has decreased from 4,300 to 324 in October 2021. While Son La province is the 40th out of 63 provinces to be bear bile farm-free, the capital Hanoi remains the country’s bear farming hotspot.
“Many provinces have been working hard to end bear farming, but Hanoi province has shown only very little improvement, reflecting poorly upon overall efforts of the government. The outcomes of the new bear bile consumer study emphasizes even further that there is no reason at all to continue this cruel practice of animal suffering. We urge the government to do everything in its power to reach their goal of ending bear farming for good by 2025,” said Barbara van Genne, responsible for wild animal rescue & advocacy at FOUR PAWS.
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