After 17 Years in Tiny Cages, 9 Bears Are Moving to a 'Species-Appropriate' Sanctuary in Vietnam – PEOPLE

After 17 Years in Tiny Cages, 9 Bears Are Moving to a 'Species-Appropriate' Sanctuary in Vietnam – PEOPLE

A global animal welfare organization's largest bear rescue to date saved the lives of nine Asiatic black bears.
According to a release from FOUR PAWS, the organization recently rescued the animals, picking up the nine bears from three different bear farms in the Binh Duong province of southern Vietnam.
Before their rescue, the bears were subjected to painful bile extractions, as bear bile is considered a remedy in traditional medicine, according to FOUR PAWS. The nonprofit knows the nine bears spent at least 17 years in the cramped, tiny cages rescuers found them in because, in 2005, the Vietnamese government banned the intake of new bears onto bear farms and had all the bears currently residing on farms microchipped.
While this ban prevented new bears from being taken to farms, bear farm owners were allowed to keep their microchipped animals, leaving bears like the nine recently rescued animals stuck in uncomfortable, unnatural conditions.
"All bears still kept on bear farms in Vietnam are suffering. They suffer from cruel keeping conditions and bile extraction, which is illegal, but still done. These bears are locked up in metal cages, often not much larger than the bear itself, lined up in dark sheds without any sunlight. Bears need to roam around, climb, dig, and swim. The remaining bears in Vietnam still have a chance at a better life, but only if all province authorities in Vietnam are fully committed to finally end bear farming in the country. To achieve this, especially Hanoi must step up its efforts," Magdalena Scherk-Trettin, who coordinates the FOUR PAWS bear projects, said in a statement.
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Captive Asiatic black bear numbers are dropping across Vietnam, with 40 out of 63 provinces bear farming-free. Still, Vietnam's capital Hanoi remains a hotspot for bear farms, per FOUR PAWS' release, with 158 of the 317 captive Asiatic black bears left in Vietnam living on farms in Hanoi.
FOUR PAWS is working to shut down all the remaining bear farms in Vietnam, offering to move bears surrendered by farmers to their bear sanctuary in Ninh Binh.
The nine bears recently rescued by FOUR PAWS —  Vui, Nui, An, Teo, Tai, Tin, Khoi, Danh, and Thi — are at the sanctuary now after completing a 1,000-mile, 42-hour journey from their farms to their new home.
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"The rescue mission was a success, and everything went to plan, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team. The journey back was long and obviously stressful for the bears although we try to make them as comfortable as possible. However, now they are safely at the sanctuary and already settling in, with soft beds, healthy food, enrichment, and medical treatment. They suffer from an extensive array of ailments found in former bile bears, so we have our work cut out. The first months of care will be very intensive, but soon hopefully they will be enjoying a more species-appropriate life alongside all our other rescued bears," Emily Lloyd, an animal manager at FOUR PAWS' bear sanctuary in Ninh Binh, said.

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