An illegally captive, Asiatic black bear named Cam has been rescued from the horrific abuse of bear bile farming in Hai Phong province in Vietnam. The exploitation of captive bears for their bile is one of the worst examples of animal cruelty in the world today.
Despite the strides made to end bear farming in Vietnam, hundreds of bears are still suffering a horrific and tortuous life in captivity for their bile. This bear was kept in a tiny cage, which is typical of the way many of these bears are forced to live their lives. Their cages are small, cramped and barren, not much larger than a telephone booth, causing extreme physical and psychological suffering.
World Animal Protection, Four Paws and Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) came together with local authorities for the rescue to ensure Cam could live out the rest of his life at a sanctuary run by Four Paws International in Ninh Binh, just over 100 kilometres south of Hanoi.
Cam was initially discovered by World Animal Protection, Four Paws International and the authorities during a joint routine monitoring trip to bear farms in the Hai Phong province.
World Animal Protection has been working with the government to register and microchip all bears living on farms across the country and monitoring them with inspections. This is to ensure that no new bears enter captivity for the bile industry. Any bears found without registration papers or microchips are confiscated and transferred to a government rescue centres or a non-government organisation sanctuary.
Cam was found without a microchip, so World Animal Protection, together with its local partners Four Paws International and ENV, negotiated Cam’s release with the local authorities, planned his rescue and secured him a forever home.
Roughly six years old, Cam was kept in a narrow, steel cage measuring 1x1.2 metres wide and 1.5 metres high, making it extremely difficult for him to move around. There was no space or enrichment for him, and he was fed a poor diet that did not provide the nutrients he needed to live a healthy life.
The rescue took place on Wednesday, April 28. Cam was transferred onto a truck and driven to the sanctuary. The transportation went smoothly, and he is now settling into his new surroundings where he will live a life free of cruelty and suffering.
For over 15 years, World Animal Protection and other partnering NGOs have worked with the Vietnamese government, fighting to end the cruel practice of bear bile farming and protect the small population of bears remaining in the wild. Collective efforts have resulted in a 91% reduction in the number of bile bears in Vietnam, from 4,300 bears recorded in 2005 to 369 bears on farms today.
Bear bile farming is not only cruel and the cause of horrific stress and suffering to animals, it also poses a negative reputational risk to Vietnam. While significant progress has been made across the country, Hanoi province is lagging far behind and remains the country’s number one bear bile farming hotspot, with 162 bears, accounting for 44% of the total bile bears in Vietnam. The authorities in Hanoi must step up and enforce the law and actively convince farmers to give up their bears.
Maya Pastakia, Global Campaign Manager – Wildlife, Not Medicine, at World Animal Protection said:
"Despite the strides made to end bear farming in Vietnam, hundreds of bears are still suffering a horrific and tortuous life in captivity for their bile. This bear was kept in a tiny cage, which is typical of the way many of these bears are forced to live their lives. Their cages are small, cramped and barren, not much larger than a telephone booth, causing extreme physical and psychological suffering.
"The government of Vietnam must close all remaining legal loopholes once and for all to end the barbaric and illegal practice of bear bile farming."
Dung Nguyen, Education For Nature – Vietnam said:
"ENV welcomes the determination and efforts of the city government of Hai Phong to completely end the situation of keeping bears for bile in the city. The fast and decisive handling of the Hai Phong city government for bear-related violations will help the city soon end the situation of keeping bears in the city."
Barbara van Genne at FOUR PAWS International says:
"We are thrilled that bear Cam will be joining the 41 other rescued bears at our sanctuary in Ninh Binh. Bear bile farming is extremely cruel and bears rescued from these farms are often psychologically scarred. But this is one more bear that can live out the rest of his life in peace, free from the pain and suffering previously inflicted on him."
World Animal Protection is working in collaboration with Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and Four Paws International and are calling on the provincial leaders of provinces involved in bear bile farming to take immediate and effective action to expedite an end to bear bile farming - a practice which is illegal in the country.
Read World Animal Protection’s report, Cruel Cures about bear bile farming here.
Authorities in bear bile provinces should encourage local bear owners to surrender their bears and punish those who continue to break the law. Bold actions will send a clear message that bear bile farming has no place in Vietnam, now or in the future.
World Animal Protection has been helping the government microchip bears in captivity to stop any new bears entering the system and enabling the confiscation of these new bears to sanctuaries, with the help of our partner organisations, ENV and Four Paws International. We are also working to strengthen legislation to pave the way for a breeding ban for bile bears in Vietnam so that no new bears enter the horrific abuse of bear bile industry again.
Bear bile is believed to treat abscesses, haemorrhoids, epilepsy and cysts. The suffering is wholly unjustified as herbal and synthetic alternatives are all readily available. The bear bile industry has led to poaching of wild bears over the past 36 years with poaching leading to a sharp decline in the numbers of bears in the wild in Asia.
World Animal Protection is committed to ending the exploitation of bears in the bear bile industry, and to protect wild bears from a lifetime of suffering in captivity. Our work includes:
Joining with partners, including governments, global bodies, local partners and individuals, to stop bears being exploited and to create lasting change
Strengthening laws, policies, monitoring and enforcementto ensure that bears are protected from all forms of bile extraction and exploitation
Raising awareness of alternatives to bear bile, including herbal and synthetic products, which are readily available, affordable and effective
Working with local organisations to urge governments to live up to their international commitments to protect bears and other wild animals