BOSTON - April 27, 2018--For two Vietnamese bile bears, May and Binh Yen, who lived most of their lives in agony on a bear farm in the Vietnamese province of Ninh Binh, their time of suffering is over. Today, FOUR PAWS, the international animal welfare organization rescued the two Asiatic black bears from their tiny metal cages and brought them to BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, which was built by the organization in 2017.
May and Binh Yen are the last bile bears on a farm in Ninh Binh province. With their rescue, the animal welfare organization was able to end the keeping of bile bears in the entire province. Unfortunately, in other provinces of Vietnam, about than 936 bears are still suffering on bear farms, their bile illegally and primitively extracted for the bile markets.
Bear bile has been used as a remedy for eye infections, bruises, indigestion and other conditions in traditional Chinese medicine for several thousand years. Although the effects are questioned by renowned experts and despite the fact that there are better herbal and synthetic alternatives available, bear bile is still a much sought-after product in many Asian countries. The possession, sale and consumption of bear bile in Vietnam has been banned since 2005.
May and Binh Yen are currently in the quarantine station of BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, where they will receive medical care from FOUR PAWS veterinarians and caretakers. A lifetime of abuse as bile bears have left physical marks on them.
Veterinarian Dr. Johanna Painer, from the Veterinary University Vienna accompanied the rescue.
“The ultrasound showed Binh Yen’s gallbladder and liver have changed significantly. A scar at the entrance of the gallbladder clearly indicates abuse as a bile bear. Sadly, her condition is critical.”
Veterinarian Dr. Johanna Painer, from the Veterinary University Vienna
For 15 years, the animals were trapped in dirty cages and lived among 10 other bear sufferers. Nine of them died in recent years. FOUR PAWS was able to rescue a single fellow sufferer and bring her to BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh in November 2017. Tht bear, Hai Chan is missing both front paws. Her successful rescue has touched millions of people worldwide.
Over the coming weeks, May and Binh Yen will receive intensive medical care from the FOUR PAWS veterinarians. The team is hoping that after quarantine and a period of familiarization with the bear house, both bears might be able to move into their new home in about five weeks. A large newly built outdoor enclosure next to Hai Chan awaits them. Including May, Binh Yen and Hai Chan, six other former bile bears are currently living at the sanctuary. Vietnam is one of the few countries in Asia that has taken legal action against the keeping of bile bears. However, it is imperative that existing laws are implemented more consistently.
"We are glad that we were able to end the keeping of bile bears in Ninh Binh with the support of the local authorities. Unfortunately, in many other provinces of Vietnam bile extraction is still happening. We have 38 open spots at our BEAR SANCTUARY and we are ready to welcome this many suffering bears to a happy life free of pain as soon as possible. Therefore, with the support of hundreds of thousands of animal friends, we urge the Vietnamese government to vigorously pursue the promised closure of all remaining bear farms.”
Kieran Harkin, Head of International Wild Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS
In 2005 the Vietnamese government launched a campaign to phase out bear farming. All captive bears were registered and microchipped as part of an effort to ensure that no new bears entered the farms. Bile bears, which remained property of the state, were to be looked after by the farmers until their transfer to a local sanctuary or natural death. Bear farmers were also required to sign a declaration to never again extract bile. In 2017 the Vietnamese government also issued a statement on their intent to end bear farming and begin rescuing bears. FOUR PAWS supports the efforts of the government with the launch of an international campaign and by conducting rescue missions.
FOUR PAWS’ started a petition to encourage the Vietnamese government to do whatever it takes to put an end to bear farming: www.saddestbears.com/Vietnam. FOUR PAWS plans to deliver the signatures of one million people to the Vietnamese government. More than 750,000 signatures have already been collected.