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Hope for Vietnam’s suffering bile bears


FOUR PAWS and coalition of NGOs come together to expedite end to bear farming in Vietnam

Brussels, 24.05.2017 – International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has joined forces with local partners Education for Nature Vietnam and World Animal Protection to form a coalition to bring hope to around 1,300 bile bears living in extremely poor conditions across Vietnam on approximately 400 bear farms.


The coalition aims to work with the Vietnamese Government to expedite an end to cruel bear farming in Vietnam, and has already begun by implementing a new roadmap outlining a phased approach to reducing the number of bears on farms from approximately 1,300, to zero over the next three years.


Bears on these farms suffer terribly in tiny metal cages, spending their days in a vegetated state, half-starved and dehydrated. Two weeks ago, FOUR PAWS released shocking footage of illegal “bile extraction” taking place on Vietnamese bear farms, despite the brutal practice being outlawed in the country for over a decade ( Bear bile has been used for thousands of years as an ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine products and is still sought after in Vietnam and other Asian countries.


The roadmap is designed to introduce a stricter monitoring system on bear farms ensuring bears have a higher level of care and that any unregistered, and therefore illegal, bears are immediately confiscated. It also includes work to strengthen laws and policy in Vietnam, providing suitable accommodation for confiscated bears, eradicating wildlife crimes affecting bears and reducing the demand for bear products and parts.


Kieran Harkin, Head of International Wild Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS states: “The coalition recognises that the three-year roadmap is ambitious but with the encouraging steps already taken by the Vietnamese government over the course of the last decade we genuinely see this as the time to finish the job and finally put an end to bear farming for good. With stricter monitoring of bear farms and greater efforts in enforcing legislation we hope to see an end to bears being kept on farms, through both the confiscation of bears and bear farm owners voluntarily giving up their bears. This won’t happen overnight but it will see the number of bears on farms dramatically reduced each year, hopefully bringing the number to zero over the next three years.”


FOUR PAWS is currently constructing a new state of the art sanctuary in Vietnam that will eventually be able to offer homes to 100 of the bears whilst offering the public in Vietnam the opportunity to come and learn about bears and see them in a species-appropriate environment. The new bear sanctuary will open its doors this summer to the first bears in urgent need of a rescue.


One of these bears is Hai Chan, a female moon bear that has been living on a bear farm in Ninh Binh for more than ten years (  She is a true example of the current state of many of the bears kept on farms across Vietnam. Raised in a small, rusty cage her bile has been harvested in a painful way for many years. She is also missing her front two paws, which is common among bears on bear farms as there is a significant demand in Vietnam and across Asia for bear paws as meat or to be used in bear paw wine.


Kieran Harkin: “We have not only seen numerous online adverts offering bear bile products but we have also seen bear paw wine being offered. There can be little doubt that the trade still exists and there is an urgency to finally get the bears out of farms and finally put an end to bear farming. Hai Chan like many other bears lives mutilated in her tiny cage, lacking the most basic requirements like fresh water, proper food and room to move around. In the last two years, we have seen a total of 12 bears in this bear farm reduce to 4 as the bears slowly succumb to their terrible situations. Hai Chan, sadly also seems to be giving up on life.”


In addition to the new coalition of organisations taking steps to end bear farming in Vietnam and the construction of a new sanctuary, FOUR PAWS has also launched an international campaign asking people around the world to sign a petition to encourage the Vietnamese government to take the necessary measures to end bear farming: Nearly 100,000 animal lovers worldwide have already signed it.