Vietnam’s National Bear Week highlights importance of ending the country’s cruel bear bile industry

14 December 2017

We’re microchipping more bears in Vietnam, which will help end the awful practice of extracting bear bile for traditional medicine

This week (from Monday 11 December 2017) is National Bear Week in Vietnam, an annual event held to raise awareness of the protection of bears. During the week-long initiative, co-organised by Four Paws and Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), we’ve been continuing our drive to end the cruel practice of keeping bears in farms to extract their bile. This process is used for traditional medicine. 

We’re set to reach our 2017 target of microchipping 240 bears in Vietnam. 

This is an essential part of our work to microchip all captive bears to make sure no new bears enter the bear bile industry. Since we started microchipping, among other interventions by organisations working in Vietnam, the number of bears in captivity has dropped by 69%. In 2005 4,300 bears were kept in captivity – this year that has been reduced to 1,350.

What is the bear bile industry?

Bear bile is often used in traditional medicine in Vietnam. To fuel this trade, bears are kept captive in farms, where their bile is painfully extracted from their abdomen. These bears were illegally taken from the wild, most as cubs.

Bears are kept in tiny cages, causing them severe pain and psychological trauma.

Their bile is painfully extracted to be sold to consumers in Vietnam and other parts of Asia.

What is microchipping and how does it help bears?

We’ve been microchipping captive bears captive in the bear bile industry.

Microchipping is a way of tracking and monitoring bears. It means bear owners must comply with laws that control bear bile production.

Local Vietnamese Forest Protection Departments can monitor the number of animals kept in farms. If officials find an unchipped bear, it’s likely to have been caught illegally. In these cases, we work with Vietnamese authorities to take these bears to sanctuaries where they can recover and live a pain-free life.

By July 2017, we had microchipped 110 bears in the Hanoi province. Now we’re set to microchip 130 more bears in Vietnam. This will take our total to 240 bears microchipped by the end of the year.

By stopping more bears being forced into these farms, we are putting an end to the bear bile industry for good. 

Read more about our work helping bears.

These bears were illegally taken from the wild, most as cubs.

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