Vietnam strives to end the use of bear bile

by Hoai Luong - Tien Lam/VTV18 July 2016 Last updated at 16:58 PM

(Photo: Hung Vo/VNA)
(Photo: Hung Vo/VNA)

VTV.vn - In Vietnam, about 1,200 bears are held in captivity on farms and subjected to regular bile extraction, although bear bile farming has been illegal in the country since 1992.

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Center is now providing lifetime care and regular health checks for nearly 150 rescued bears in Vietnam.

"The bear was extracted from many times. The needle was poked in so many times that the body had reacted and the gall bladder was damaged. They will have to live the rest of their lives without one, which is our choice because we don't want them to live in pain", Mandala Hunter-Ishikawa - Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Animals Asia - said.

Bears have been caged in poor conditions for bile extraction, as people still believe that bear bile is an irreplaceable ingredient in traditional medicine.

In an effort to end bear bile farming in Vietnam, Animals Asia in 2005 signed an agreement with the Vietnam Government to build the Vietnam Bear Rescue Center in Tam Dao National Park for bears rescued from bile farms across the country.

Thua Thien-Hue central province was the first locality to terminate bear bile farming, followed by Binh Thuan Province. Late last year, Quang Ninh Province closed down the longstanding industry with the last 33 bears rescued by Animals Asia.

"Over the years, we have rescued quite a few bears that were voluntarily handed over. That is very encouraging. Farmers see that their profits are dropping. There is maybe less demand for bear bile, therefore farmers cannot ask as much for bear bile anymore", Annemarie Weegenaar - Bear and vet team director, Animals Asia in Vietnam, said.

As long as people use bear bile, the trade will still exist. The Viet Nam Oriental Traditional Medicine Association and Animals Asia Foundation signed an agreement last year to end the use of bear bile in oriental medicine in Vietnam by 2020.

Public awareness also plays an important role in helping end bear bile farming and consumption in Vietnam. Public awareness campaigns have been held by Animals Asia in which children prove to be very active.

"Here at our center, children can learn everything about bears and get hands-on experience of preparing food for bears. These activities have helped raise their awareness in protecting bears, thus, they can help us to change adults’ minds on the issue", Phan Thuy Trinh - Head of Communications and Public Awareness, Animals Asia, Vietnam - said.

Vietnam Bear Rescue Center welcomes about 1,500 visitors every year who are provided with evidence of the cruelty of the industry and the usage of bear bile in traditional medicine, which is completely uncalled for. Proceeds from selling souvenirs like these go to the bears’ welfare.

Statistics from the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry showed that the number of bears kept on bile farms have reduced remarkably from 4,300 in 2005 to about 1,200 in 2015. Once people give up their habit of using bear bile, the market for it will disappear and no bears will be illegally caged for bile extraction in Vietnam. Hoai Luong. Vietnam Television. Vinh Phuc Province.


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