HANOI, VIETNAM (animalsasia.org) - It is already home to 161 rescued moon and sun bears, and Animals Asia's Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre has just expanded still further.
Today (Wednesday 19 April), the NGO unveiled a new double bear house at its world-class bear sanctuary in Vinh Phuc province, Vietnam allowing the charity to save up to 40 more bears.
The new building features two semi-natural enclosures which provide open, grassy spaces for bears to play, forage and learn to be bears again after long-term suffering on bear bile farms.
Since opening in 2008, the sanctuary has welcomed 177 bears, mostly rescued from the bear bile industry. The latest round of building sees the facility reach its maximum size with Animals Asia having used the entire area allocated to them by the Vietnamese government.
Animals Asia's Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:
"We are very proud to open this latest double bear house and complete the commitment we made to the Vietnamese government almost a decade ago.
"Pivotally, this expansion means up to 40 more bears now have the chance of a better life. We look forward to bringing new bears to the facility for the care and rehabilitation they so desperately need."
Bear bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992, but still persists due to legal loopholes. In 2006, every bear in captivity was microchipped so that no new bears could be added to farms. But with the country lacking resources and expertise to build rescue centres and care for the animals, households were allowed to keep the bears on the government's behalf having agreed not to extract bile.
In 2005 bear bile farming reached its peak in Vietnam with over 4,000 bears in captivity, but with farmers unable to add new bears to existing stocks, the numbers have dwindled to around 1,000 today as bears have been rescued or died.
"We will continue to lobby Vietnam's government and forestry to agree an ongoing and sustainable plan of rescues, rehabilitation and care that will see this cruel industry ended for good and the final 1,000 bears rescued."
Animals Asia's Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:
"Today marks the beginning of a new hope for 40 bears somewhere in Vietnam who desperately need our help. As soon as the authorities can convince more farmers to give up their long-suffering bears, we'll be there to save them and bring them to their new lives here free of pain and suffering.
"When this last bear house is full, together we will have saved more than 200 bears from extreme cruelty. That is something which should make all parties extremely proud.
"But today is also the end of an era for Animals Asia. From our investigations and work that began in Vietnam in 1999 and nearly a decade on from our landmark agreement with the Vietnamese government, we have completed our end of the bargain and I think, proven our good faith to the authorities. Over the years we have trusted each other, worked hand in hand, and achieved amazing things together.
"But the story doesn't end here. Our partnership will enter a new phase and together, we can rid Vietnam of the scourge of bear bile farming forever and ensure that every last bear presently suffering on a farm finally finds sanctuary."
Just last week, Animals Asia's sanctuary welcomed two new residents, moon bears Wendles and Bazan. The duo were rescued from a bear bile farm in Gia Lai province by an Animals Asia team and brought nearly 1,000km by road back the sanctuary.
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Updated 64 days ago Article ID# 4131212