14 bears rescued from bile trade
Hanoi - Fourteen bears have been rescued from the bear bile trade in Vietnam, an animal protection organisation said on Tuesday.
"This is the first time in Vietnam that a bear farm has given up significant number of bears without any demand for compensation," said Tuan Bendixsen, head of Vietnam's Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) which rescued the bears. "It is a welcome move."
The Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears, were rescued from a farm in Binh Duong Province, southern Vietnam, and are being looked after at the Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao, near Hanoi.
The bears show significant health problems including missing and maimed limbs, indicating they may have been trapped in the wild, AAF said in a press release.
One of the four owners, Nguyen Ngoc Tien, decided to give up his share of the farm to Animals Asia.
"I am now encouraging other bear farmers to do the same," Tien said.
Across Asia, an estimated 14 000 moon bears are being held in captivity on farms and milked for their bile. It is used in traditional Asian medicine despite the availability of inexpensive and effective herbal and synthetic alternatives.
Bears are kept in small cages, drugged, restrained and have their abdomens jabbed with unsterilised 10cm needles until their gall bladders are punctured to release their bile.
Bear farming is illegal though people are allowed to keep bears as pets. While they claim bears are not milked, the industry is widely acknowledged to thrive in Vietnam.