After a bear center in Vietnam, run by charity group Animals Asia, had been facing the threat of eviction since October 5, 2012, government Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung concluded that the shelter should be maintained. As a result, the 77 workers there will keep their jobs, and the 104 bears living there will continue to have a home.
The decision to preserve the center, according to an Animals Asia press release, will ensure the continued safety of the bears. The animals were previously rescued from the torturous bear bile industry, which painfully pumps them to extract their bile for medicinal purposes. The danger of eviction had arisen last year when the Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock corporation showed an interest in clearing the land so it could build hotels and an eco-tourism site there. The company had been agressively lobbying the Vietnam Administration of Forestry to get approval for real estate development. Those plans are now cancelled, however, after the government clearly decided that the livelihoods of the bears are more important.
The positive outcome also ensures that Animals Asia, a charity devoted to ending bear bile "farming," and improving the wellbeing of Vietnamese and Chinese animals, will not suffer $2 million in losses as previously feared.
The organization's Vietnam Director, Tuan Bendixsen, remarked, "We are very grateful to the Prime Minister for his commitment to the bear rescue center. We look forward to working with the government to end bear bile farming and help conserve the bear species."
Animals Asia's work is far from finished, as there are 10,000 bears still being kept on farms in China - and 2,400 in Vietnam - that regularly pumped for bile, even though there are many alternatives for the medicine it is used in - ones that don't involve animal cruelty. Some of the bears are kept in small cages for up to 30 years while they are continuously starved, dehydrated, and tortured.
Chris Gee, external affairs manager at the World Society for the Protection of Animals, explained, "Bears suffer immense cruelty and pain as a result of being kept captive in bear bile industry conditions. Taking action to phase out the bear bile industry is essential to protect existing and future generations of bears from this completely unnecessary and cruel practice that is damaging to nature."
According to Chinese researcher Dr. Yibin Feng, bear farms are "unnecessary centers of animal cruelty," and that "herbal substitutes that are derived from plants are virtually indistinguishable from bear bile in terms of effectiveness." He added, "Bears are being inhumanely treated and bear farming must end in the near-future."
Animals Asia MBE/founder/CEO Jill Robinson concluded, "Our priority is to rehabilitate these bears after their years of trauma from being locked up in small cages and milked for their bile. If we had been forced to relocate it would have [had] a terrible impact on their wellbeing. We want to sincerely thank the tens of thousands of supporters from around the world who wrote letters, sent emails, and signed petitions calling for the eviction to be stopped."
Photo: Now that Animals Asia's sanctuary has been saved from eviction, bears like the one pictured will continue to thrive there. Animals Asia/Dropbox