In Vietnam nearly 2,000 bears remain in cages on bear bile farms, despite its illegality. They suffer regular painful bile extractions as their bile is used in traditional medicine.
The local Forestry Protection Department (FPD) took the decision to allow access to Animals Asia's inspection team due to reports of plummeting bear numbers and bear deaths.
Bear numbers on Halong Bay bear farms have dropped dramatically from 280 in 2007 to just 49 today.
On November 13, flanked by government officials and a police guard, an Animals Asia veterinarian and a vet nurse visually inspected all 49 bears on three separate farms in the tourist hot spot.
The scenes described in the reports are in stark contrast to adjacent beauty spot Halong Bay, a World Heritage Site visited by millions of international tourists every year.
The conditions of Cau Trang Bear Farm, just minutes from Halong City's iconic waterfront, caused most concern with veterinary staff overwhelmed by the desperate state of the 27 bears they found.
Animals Asia Senior Vet, Joost Philippa compiled a report containing the following: