Although the Vietnamese Government has taken firm legislative steps to end bear farming, there are still approximately 1,300 so-called “bile bears” living under poor conditions on roughly 400 bear farms. Almost all of the bears were born in the wild, but were brutally snatched at a young age by poachers. Many of these bears suffer in tiny metal cages, spending their days in a vegetative state, half-starved and dehydrated. In addition to being kept in tiny cages some of these bears are still having their bile extracted from their gallbladders for use in traditional Chinese medicine products. Despite the sale and possession of bear bile being made illegal along with further steps to end bear farming taken by the Vietnamese government in 2005, there is still a trade and a welfare crisis for the bears on these farms. Therefore, FOUR PAWS ask you to please add your voice in calling on the Vietnamese government to end bear farming.
Extracting the bile is a painful procedure that involves anaesthetising the bear then using an ultrasonic or simply a “stab in the dark” to locate its gallbladder. The bile is then pumped out through a catheter, or extracted with a syringe. In Vietnam, this procedure is often done in unhygienic conditions and performed by untrained individuals.
Many bears rescued from these farms suffer from the long-term effects from the miserable lives they lived there. Often, they need their gallbladders removed due to the damage of near constant bile extraction over many years. Many of them also lose the majority of their teeth after years of improper nutrition and biting the bars of their cages, a sign of psychological distress. Even when rescued bears are safe and enjoying life in a sanctuary, they still have to cope with problems such as muscle damage due to years of confinement in tiny cages. Other bears have missing limbs as a result of capture or the illegal sale of their body parts, rendering them permanently disabled.
Vietnam has a history of keeping bears in captivity but is now one of the few countries in Asia to take firm legislative steps against the keeping of bears for bile production. In 2005, the Vietnamese government launched efforts to phase out the keeping and farming of bears for their bile. The first step to this process was designed to stop any new bears entering the trade through the enforced registration of all captive bears within Vietnam. After this initial process, the second part of the plan was for all unregistered bears to be confiscated and their owners prosecuted. However, enforcement difficulties and conflicting new regulations have undermined this effort and led to numerous cases of illegally held bears being registered and left in the hands of private owners.
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare charity. Our vision is a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. Our mission is to be the strong, global and independent voice for animals under human control. We aim to realise these goals through our projects and campaigns, which provide short-term and long-term solutions for animals in need.