4 min read

YES: Vietnam Is Shutting Down All Its Bear Bile Farms

This is huge — and means that hundreds of caged bears will go free.

Over a thousand bears are suffering right now on "bile farms" across Vietnam — but a historic agreement was just signed to close these terrible farms once and for all.

Bear bile — a digestive fluid that is used in traditional Eastern medicine and in household products in Asia — is painfully extracted from bears who spend their lives in cages so small they can barely turn around. They suffer from infections, tumors and diseases because of the invasive process until they eventually die. 

Even though bear bile farming has been technically illegal in Vietnam since 1992, the country lacked the resources to enforce the ban, and the farms persisted — until now.

"The [Vietnamese] government has agreed to close the loophole that has allowed bile farming to persist for the last decade," Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam director of Animals Asia, said. "They have agreed that there can be no bears kept on farms, because as long as they are there, they will suffer extraction.”

At the industry's peak in Vietnam, in 2005, about 4,000 bears were caged and suffering on these farms. Wild populations of bears had been decimated to feed the demand for bear bile. Sadly, in other countries, bear bile farming is an even larger industry. In China, where most of the demand for bear bile lies and where bile farming is still legal, at least 10,000 bears suffer at bile farms. 

Vietnam agrees to close bear bile farms
Cao Chi Cong, deputy general director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, shakes hands with Animals Asia CEO and founder Jill Robinson after signing the agreement to close bear bile farms. | Animals Asia

But the news is something to celebrate, as plans are being made for Vietnam's remaining bile farm bears to retire to sanctuaries, even if coordinating the transfer of bears to existing sanctuaries, and creating new sanctuaries to meet the sudden demand, is expected to take some time. 

bears rescued from bile farm
Bears rescued from bile farming hugging at sanctuary | Animals Asia
Bear sanctuary in Vietnam
A sanctuary for bears rescued from bile farming in Vietnam | Animals Asia

“It is still a huge undertaking and will require the participation of many groups, NGOs, government departments and the support of animal lovers in general to make this agreement reality," Jill Robinson, founder and CEO of Animals Asia, said, "but pivotally we are all in agreement about what has to be done and now we can get on with seeing it through.”

Bear rescued from bile farm in Vietnam
Rescued bear at sanctuary in Vietnam | Animals Asia
You can help give these bears the lives they truly deserve by making a donation to Animals Asia. You can also take action against bear bile farming in other countries.
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