Vietnamese police seize biggest bear bile haul

By Minh Nga   June 3, 2022 | 06:28 pm PT
Vietnamese police seize biggest bear bile haul
A caged bear is seen during a rescue operation from a facility where bear bile is extracted in Vietnam's northern Thai Nguyen Province in April 2018. Photo by AFP
Police in Hanoi have arrested a bear owner and seized 350 bottles of bear bile, the largest bear bile haul ever netted in Vietnam.

Wildlife protection organization Education for Nature Vietnam said on Friday that the police caught Nguyen Van Thao in suburban Phuc Tho District transporting the bottles of bear bile fuild in his car on May 25.

Initial investigation found the bile was extracted from seven bears that Thao was keeping at his home. It is not clear where the bear bile was destined.

"This is the first time a bear owner in Hanoi has been arrested and faces criminal charges for the illegal transport and trade of bear bile," Education for Nature deputy head Bui Thi Ha said in a statement, as cited by Suc Khoe & Doi Song, the news website of Vietnam's Health Ministry.

Thao faces five years in prison.

Vietnam is a major hub for the illegal trade in wild animals, and bears are kept to drain the bile from their gall bladders as some people believe it could be used as traditional medicine.

The government banned commercial bear bile extraction in 2005, but farmers are still allow to keep their bears.

Hanoi is holding over half of captive bears in the country. Out of the 294 bears held captive at private facilities in Vietnam, 149, or over 50 percent, are in Hanoi, according to World Animal Protection.

Phuc Tho District alone has 139 bears held captive in 21 facilities.

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