From tiny cage to relaxing hammock
Former "bile bear" Hy Vong enters her new enclosure for the first time
Do you remember the story of Asian black bear Hy Vong? Often referred to as “moon bears” because of the characteristic white crescent shape on their chests, Hy Vong was kept in terrible conditions on a farm in Vietnam, where for many years her bile was painfully extracted for use in traditional medicines.
In 2014, Hy Vong was taken to the “Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Centre” by her owner because she had become useless for the bile industry. Although no puncture wound could be seen on her stomach, ultrasonic scans revealed that her liver was covered with scars. This indicates that Hy Vong was abused as a bile bear, although bile extraction has officially been banned in Vietnam since 1992!
Although Hy Vong had escaped the suffering of bile extraction in her new home at the wildlife rescue center Soc Son, her accommodation was still not species-appropriate. The cage she was living in was just a few square meters in size and Hy Vong could hardly move. When FOUR PAWS saw her sad eyes for the first time, we knew that work needed to be done. We started our activities in Vietnam in order to support Soc Son financially. A new bear enclosure (first a bear house followed by outdoor enclosures) was established to provide the bears more space. Now, the first enclosures have been built and Hy Vong was able to enter her new home for the very first time. We covered her first, tentative steps in her new home with our camera:
FOUR PAWS creates more space for 15 bears
This, however, is just the beginning. There’s still a lot of work to be done. The situation for Asiatic black bears in Vietnam is catastrophic. Since extracting bear bile is against the law, many bear farms have had to close. Nevertheless, more than 1,200 bears still live in horrendous conditions on bear farms. The number has declined significantly since 2005 – at that time there was still over 4,000 bears living in appalling conditions on bear farms. However, the sharp decline in numbers is not simply due to natural causes. Above all, the decline can be attributed to to the illegal wildlife trade. Due to the financial burden, many farmers sell their animals illegally to China or Laos, where the bile bear industry is still legal. Some of them even slaughter all of their bears and sell the coveted paws and organs abroad.
It’s clear we need to stop this horrendous practice immediately. We want to help as many bears as possible, as soon as we can. Therefore, we plan to build a bear sanctuary in Vietnam offering a new home for abused bile bears.
Please support our efforts to rescue more bile bears in Vietnam by donating today!