Friday, January 9, 2015

Four bears starve to death at Halong Bay bile farm

Four bears starve to death at Halong Bay bile farm

The Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department has reported that four bears from the Cau Trang bear bile farm in Halong City, Vietnam have died.

While the exact cause of death is unknown their severe state of malnourishment is likely to have been the main contributing factor, with the bears effectively starving to death.

The news follows an expose by animal welfare organisation Animals Asia late last year.  A report on the farm’s 27 bears outlined the appalling conditions. The bears were described as emaciated, suffering from open wounds and missing limbs.

Following the four bear deaths, 23 bears now remain.

Animals Asia provided a report prepared by Senior Veterinarian Joost Philippa to the Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department and the Ministry of Rural Development on November 27. It included the request that the bears be handed over to Animals Asia for care and rehabilitation at its nearby Tam Dao bear sanctuary.

While continuing to await a response, and fearing for the lives of the bears, Animals Asia followed up with an urgent request to the Ministry of Rural Development on December 24.

Now, with news that four bears have already died, Animals Asia’s worst fears have been realised.  Concern for the remaining bears has also increased.

With the situation growing increasingly desperate, a third urgent request was sent to the Ministry of Rural Development on January 7.

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:

“The Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department has been extremely helpful in this case. They initially forced the farm to give our vet team access and have kept us updated with the condition of the bears.

“However, it is not within their jurisdiction to close the farm and save the lives of these bears or to allow us to treat them. The Ministry of Rural Development has national responsibility for the welfare of Vietnam’s bears in captivity.”

Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“This is exactly what we feared, with the farmer clearly not caring for these bears on any level.  This goes beyond animal welfare – the farmer is failing the most basic level of care and these poor bears are starving to death.

“This is not acceptable, and we will fight to rescue the remaining bears just as we continue to fight to end bear bile farming. This is an unfolding tragedy that must end. There is still the chance of a happy ending for the remaining bears.”

The farm is just minutes from Vietnam’s iconic Halong Bay beauty spot visited by millions of tourists every year.

Bear bile is used in traditional medicines with nearly 2,000 bears still caged in bile farms in Vietnam – despite bile farming being illegal since 1992.  Bears are chipped and monitored by government, however farmers have continued to exploit legal loopholes to carry on the practice which means the bears suffering regular, painful extractions.

The Animals Asia founders have campaigned against bear bile farming since the early 90’s before founding the NGO in 1998. Since their inception Animals Asia has rescued over 500 bears in China and Vietnam.  

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