Two Asian black bears escape captivity in Vietnam after 18 years

By Staff reporters   June 13, 2018 | 05:36 pm PT
Two Asian black bears escape captivity in Vietnam after 18 years
One of the two bears rescued from cages in Lam Dong Province in June 2018. Photo courtesy of Lam Dong Forest Management Department
Bear bile extraction, a banned practice, continues in Vietnam, around 1,000 animals are still caged.

Two Asian black bears have entered a sanctuary in Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam after nearly two decades in captivity.

The bears, scientifically known as Ursus tibetanus, were rescued early this month and can now look forward to new, comfortable life in Dong Nai Province, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City.

Free the Bears, an Australian wildlife conservation and animal welfare organization, teamed up with Vietnamese NGO Education for Nature to rescue the animals from bear bile farms in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

The animals are now under the care of veterinarians and keepers who will work to restore them to good health after 18 years of living in tiny and dirty cages.

It is estimated that Lam Dong currently has six other bears held in cages. Wildlife activists are working hard to encourage locals to free the bears.

Vietnam is home to the Asian black bear and sun bear, both listed as vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The trading of bile from living bears has been declared illegal in parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, where it has been used as a remedy in traditional Chinese medicine for decades.

However, the practice shows no sign of abating, prompting the government to team up with non-profit organizations like Four Paws to take stronger action and end the cruelty.

Vietnam banned commercial bear bile extraction in 2005, but bile farming remains a problem after more than a decade.

The government signed an agreement last July to work with animal activists to shut down all bear bile farms and free the remaining 1,000 or so captive bears by 2020.

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