Vietnam's 40th province now ‘bear bile farm-free’


Three captive Asiatic bears have been rescued from the horrific abuse of bear bile farming in Lang Son province in North Vietnam. They were the last remaining bile bears in Lang Son and the province is now the 40th bear-free province in Vietnam.

Thanks to your continued support, there has been a 90% reduction in the number of bile bears in Vietnam

Image thanks to Nguyen Van Tuyen

You’re helping end one of the worst examples of animal cruelty in the world today. Thank you.

Through your support, World Animal Protection, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and Animals Asia Foundation came together with local authorities for the rescue on Friday, 25 June 2021.

The three bears will now live out the rest of their lives at a sanctuary run by Animals Asia Foundation in Vinh Phuc, 60 km northwest of Hanoi.

Originally named Mila, Minu and Misa by their owner, the bears have now been renamed by Animals Asia Foundation to represent their new cruelty-free lives, and at the sanctuary they will go by Hy vọng (meaning ‘hope’), Tương lai (meaning ‘future’), and Vui (meaning ‘joy’).

Sadly, two of the bears are missing a paw and, according to the bear owner, the paws were already severed when they purchased the bears from a trader. It is believed they were caught in traps in the wild when they were only cubs.

Maya Pastakia, Global Campaign Manager – Wildlife, Not Medicine, at World Animal Protection said:

“Bear bile farming is illegal in Vietnam, but this hasn’t stopped the suffering of the remaining hundreds of bears who still live a torturous life in captivity for their bile.

“These bears were kept in tiny cages - not much larger than a telephone booth – for as long as 21 years. While they are the ‘lucky ones’ who are now free from cruelty, the scars from their extreme physical and psychological suffering will last their lifetime.

“The government of Vietnam must close all remaining legal loopholes for good to end the barbaric practice of bear bile farming.”

We’ve been working with the government to register and microchip all bears living on farms across the country and has been monitoring them with inspections since 2006. This is to ensure that no new bears enter captivity for the bile industry.

Any bears found without registration papers or microchips are confiscated and transferred to a government rescue centre or a non-government organisation sanctuary.

These three bears were initially identified during a microchipping trip in November 2019. One female bear was discovered to be illegal as she did not have a microchip and the authorities ordered her to be confiscated. The owner chose to voluntarily surrender her two remaining bears to the sanctuary after being persuaded by the monitoring team.

Ha Bui, Vice Director at Education for Nature Vietnam said:

“Lang Son province gains the title of Vietnam's 40th bear bile-free province, and stands as a good example of how law enforcement agencies should take decisive action to end bear farming in their jurisdictions.

“ENV encourages the 23 remaining provinces with bear bile farms to take proactive steps to end this outdated industry, and in particular, ENV calls on Hanoi - Vietnam's capital city and the country's biggest hotspot for bear bile farming - to set the necessary example and end Vietnam's bear bile farming once and for all.

For over 15 years, we’ve partnered with local NGOs and worked with the Vietnamese government, to end the cruel practice of bear bile farming and protect the small population of bears remaining in the wild.

Thanks to your continued support, there has been a 90% reduction in the number of bile bears in Vietnam, from 4,300 bears recorded in 2005 to 346 bears on farms today.

Together we can end the wildlife trade. Forever.

Mila in her cage, prior to being rescued.
Mila, prior to being rescued. Image thanks to Nguyen Van Tuyen.