Bear bile farms

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The devastating goodbye letter to a rescued bear who died too soon

Rescued from Vietnam’s Halong Bay in June 2015, it was immediately clear that moon bear Shanti had suffered horribly.
Over 18 months her carers worked tirelessly to earn her trust and encourage her to embrace life again, but ultimately they could not give Shanti back what had been taken from her and she was never mentally ready to experience the daunting vastness of the outdoors.
In January 2017, Shanti starting suffering from paralysis and spasming of her hind legs. She refused to eat, leaving her carers little choice but to humanely end her suffering. She was buried at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

Bear Manager Kelly Donithan, was hit hard at her loss. Her heart-wrenching letter, describing her relationship with Shanti and feelings of loss at her passing deserves a wider audience.
Her letter to Shanti includes:
“As I sat by her grave this morning, I begged her forgiveness for myself for not hearing better what she needed and wanted. I poured out apologies for the cruelty my species subjected her to that created such challenges in her life, even after her rescue despite being loved so dearly. I closed my eyes and pictured her outside in the grass, something I've been picturing for months, but now know I'll never see in person.”

And finishes:
“Rest easy Shanti Girl. May your new world be pain-free, full of sunshine and banana flowers. Thank you for the time you gave us. I'll love you always.”
You can read the letter in full here:

“When I received the message last week that something was wrong with Shanti, my heart sank. I've been worried, confused, bemused, frustrated and absolutely in love with this bear every day for the last year and a half.

“First, it was gaining her trust and earning a relationship with her. Nothing was easy for Shanti and achievements came in small packages. Achievements such as the first time I was able to give her a spoonful of condensed milk on a normal sized spoon versus the retractable invention needed to reach her for the weeks when she refused to leave the back of the den.
“Slowly, Shanti improved and we developed a friendship that was expressed in subtle winks, strawberry jam, and sighs of relaxation.

“Then there was her appetite. Shanti wouldn't eat any ‘normal’ bear food. She was utterly repulsed by apple and made sure I was well aware of her distaste with loud huffs of discontent.
“I racked my brain to find flavours and consistencies she would accept. Baby food, rice cereals, cooked vegetables, minced fruits, soaked dog chow, blended together, separated in piles, seasoned with chocolate syrup or yogurt, squished with jam. But any diet accepted didn't last more than a few days or weeks before an abrupt refusal from Shanti.

“With the rest of the vet team, we looked for physical medical reasons for this unusual lack of appetite. There were periods of waiting and observation to avoid constantly making too many changes to Shanti's life, but always lurking in the background was a consistent humming of ‘why?’ and ‘what to do next?’

“While Shanti had increased her confidence in den life and responded far better to her human caregivers, she was still a bear that required more gentle requests, more time to proceed in routine, and more patience to build trust.
“We began to consider that perhaps her chronic anxiety was playing a role in her unstable and confounding appetite. After much discussion, it was decided to trial Shanti on anti-depressants to hopefully address any mental health complications to her well-being.
“Initially, this appeared to be a step in the right direction. Her appetite increased and for the first time, we were able to get her to eat all the staples of a bear diet, albeit in slightly creative forms. Her activity seemed to elevate and working with her in the bear house became a smoother process. I had learned to temper my expectations with Shanti, and while I was pleased to see her doing better, I (and the rest of the team) kept a close eye for any signs of old habits. Sadly, they came in skipped meals, less consumption, and ultimately a renewed refusal to eat.

“As I sat by her grave this morning, I begged her forgiveness for myself for not hearing better what she needed and wanted. I poured out apologies for the cruelty my species subjected her to that created such challenges in her life, even after her rescue despite being loved so dearly. I closed my eyes and pictured her outside in the grass, something I've been picturing for months, but now know I'll never see in person.


“As a bear manager, Shanti taught me incredible patience, determination, and above all, to never discount the importance of individuality. Shanti was as special and unique as they come. Her challenges, triumphs, joys, fears, and of course tastes were unlike any other.

“Personally, working with Shanti through her trials gave me the courage to face some of my own demons and fight for healing that I've too long buried away. I can't possibly think I gave her back as much as she's given me. Yet, I'm also relieved her suffering has ended, and I'll hold tight to the moments of seeing her roll playfully on her back in a basket while fumbling with browse in her big paws with snow white claws.

“Rest easy Shanti Girl. May your new world be pain-free, full of sunshine and banana flowers, and never again should the scent of apple float past your nose. Thank you for the time you gave us. I'll love you always.”
https://www.animalsasia.org/intl/me...tter-to-a-rescued-bear-who-died-too-soon.html
 

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This was the horrific scene awaiting our rescue team this morning as they arrived at a bile farm in Binh Duong province Vietnam.
Nine sad bears in tiny cages. Cages that will have witnessed scenes beyond torture. The regular bile extractions they will have faced are just the start of their pain.
“Cloud” has a missing tongue. “Dieu” has a scar that stretches right across her body - likely to have been caused during her capture. It limits her movement.
When Dieu was sedated she didn’t even flinch. She just stared into space - a bear truly without hope.
Jane and Xanadu have facial scars from rubbing against the cage. Literally trying to rub out an awful existence. Perhaps even pain was preferable to their mind numbing boredom.
There is good news. The Animals Asia team are there and - as we post this - these bears are being taken from these awful cages. They are being sedated and health checked and they’ll awake to the best meal of their sad lives.
We’re there because of YOU. Because YOU didn’t give up these bears. And YOU didn’t give up on ending bear bile farming. YOU wouldn’t stand for this cruelty.
In short - YOU cared when poor Dieu thought nobody ever would.
Please help us bring these bears back to our sanctuary. It is a long long journey home. Almost 1,500kms. Each bear will react differently.
For some it’ll be preferable to the hellish boredom they have faced to date - for others it will be yet more stress to cope with.
But because of you an end to their pain is in sight. They are finally coming home. Soon their pain will go.
Please take the decision today be a part of their new lives. Be a part of this journey. Donate today towards the cost of getting them home and making them fit, healthy and happy.
Today we have hope that this cruelty can be ended. NOW let's give these bears hope too. It isn’t just about keeping them alive - it’s about giving them a reason to live.
Please donate today here: www.animalsasia.org/NineLives
THANK YOU from Song Be, Jane, Binh An, Soul, Wolfie, Dieu, Xanadu, Chom Chom and Cloud.
PS Don’t forget you can follow the rescue live all week here: http://bit.ly/9LivesLIVE - there’s also a donate link at the top of the timeline if you’d like to give towards the cost of the rescue and the bears’ rehabilitation. Thank you!

https://www.facebook.com/AnimalsAsia/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf
 

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Vietnam agrees plan to close all bear bile farms

In a historic move the Vietnamese government has agreed a plan with Animals Asia to finally end bear bile farming in the country.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines an agreement between animal welfare NGO Animals Asia and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) to work together to rescue the remaining bears still caged on farms across Vietnam – believed to be around 1,000.
The document was signed and announced at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi on Wednesday 19 July.

Mr Cao Chi Cong, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, joined Animals Asia CEO and founder Jill Robinson MBE in signing the MOU.
The move follows the MOU between Animals Asia and the Vietnamese Traditional Medicine Association signed in 2015, agreeing to ensure a complete end to bear bile prescription among traditional medicine practitioners by 2020.

This is anticipated to continue a significant reduction in demand and contribute towards the ending of the illegal market for bear bile.
Today’s agreement is effectively one that will finally close the loophole that has allowed bile farms to continue despite the illegality of the trade.
The MOU commits the government to ensuring no bears are allowed to be kept by private households – where illegal bile extraction can take place – and that the approximately 1,000 bears currently held in captivity around the country are moved to sanctuaries.
Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:
“This historic document ties NGOs and the government of Vietnam to a common goal - the end of bear bile farming in Vietnam.
“Crucially, the government has agreed to close the loophole that has allowed bile farming to persist for the last decade. By signing this MOU, they have agreed that there can be no bears kept on farms, because as long as they are there, they will suffer extraction.”
Animals Asia has so far rescued 186 bears in Vietnam since setting up its sanctuary in Tam Dao in 2008.

Bear bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992. 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. This loophole has effectively allowed bear bile farming to continue until now.
Since bear bile farming became a common practice in China and Vietnam in the 1980s, wild populations have been decimated to meet the demand the industry created.


A report by Animals Asia and Free The Bears released in 2016 found that wild populations across South East Asia had fallen dramatically with precious few pockets of wild bears existing in Vietnam today. It had been wrongly anticipated that farming bears would actually help conserve wild bears.
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, numbers have dwindled to around 1,000.
Tuan said:
“This agreement shows Vietnam acknowledges that bear bile farming harms wild populations. By signing on, they’ve shown they are serious about conserving the country’s remaining wild bears and protecting the heritage of future generations.”
While the signing of a memorandum of understanding is a landmark achievement in the battle to end bear bile farming cruelty, it will not mean an overnight end to the industry in Vietnam.
Key issues such as how to fund and manage the sanctuaries and how to proceed with the transfer of privately owned bears to rescue centres will be hammered out as part of the agreement.
It’s anticipated that new sanctuaries would need to be constructed and assistance sought from existing sanctuaries run by animal conservation and welfare charities.

nimals Asia’s Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:
“This agreement has been a long time coming with discussions beginning around 2014, so to see it finalised is a major step forward. This, of course, doesn’t end the work. Quite the opposite, but it now means we work together with a common goal – to end this cruelty.
“With all parties pulling in the right direction and in agreement about our goals we can make real progress. For the animals who have suffered for more than a decade in awful conditions the move to sanctuaries cannot come soon enough and that is the next issue – how to fund, build and manage the new sanctuaries which are necessary to rescue all bears.
“We’ve essentially sat down with the government and made a list of what needs to be completed to end bear bile farming and agreed to work through these issues together.
“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, but pivotally we are all in agreement about what has to be done and now we can get on with seeing it through.”

https://www.animalsasia.org/us/medi...agrees-plan-to-close-all-bear-bile-farms.html
 

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REPORT: Vietnam has agreed to end bear bile farming – here’s what happens next
16 August 2017

After the historic agreement to end bear bile farming in Vietnam, here’s what needs to happen to get from 1,000 caged bears in cages, to none.
By Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen
By pledging to completely end bear bile farming in Vietnam, the government has accepted a huge challenge.
But it’s one neither Animals Asia nor the government would have accepted if we didn’t think it was achievable.
The MOU itself has a five-year timeframe and this is what the Vietnam government is working towards, no more bears in cages by 2023.
But Animals Asia is hopeful this can be achieved earlier – particularly in light of our agreement with Vietnam’s Traditional Medicine Association to completely end the prescription and sale of bear bile among traditional medicine practitioners by 2020.

First steps
The first step is for Animals Asia and Vietnam’s Nature Conservation Department to finalise an overarching plan for the whole process.
That entire project – with solutions for every problem – will need to be rubberstamped by government before the process can begin.
To get an idea of the scale, the first task on the agenda is re-checking the farms in every province to find out exactly how many bears there are.
The government has been using the figure of 1,200 – but that is a 2015 figure, and we believe the true number is closer to 1,000.
Either way, we have to know for sure so that we can plan how much sanctuary space is required.

The good news is that the framework for this plan has already been drawn up it’s just the details that need to be hammered out.
This will include how many sanctuaries to build, sourcing potential locations, agreeing funding solutions, assigning management responsibilities, drawing up a comprehensive conservation plan and details on how to physically move the bears from farms to safety.

We’re hopeful that the draft will be ready in six months and it will receive input from other charities working in the sector and other departments of government before being approved.
While bear rescues will continue in the meantime – such as those Animals Asia has continued to oversee – we’re hopeful, the first bears could start to move from cages to sanctuaries around this time next year as part of the MOU.

Resources are the biggest obstacle
If resources were no object, we would simply build as many sanctuaries as we need all at once and transport all the bears in one go.
But right now, resources are the single biggest obstacle to a bear bile free Vietnam.
We estimate the cost of building enough sanctuaries, running them for a year and transporting all the bears at around USD$15-20 million.
This is money neither the Vietnam government, Animals Asia, nor any single NGO has available.

Rolling up the industry
So with a period of mass building and a single vast transportation of bears ruled out, the plan is to build the sanctuaries one by one as resources become available.
Then, once sanctuary space is ready, the bears can be transported. With provinces becoming systematically emptied of bears - one at a time. The authorities have dubbed this, the “rolling up” of the industry – like rolling up a mat.
Just as Animals Asia ended bear bile farming in the province of Quang Ninh in 2015, the same process will be carried out in each of the approximately 40 provinces and cities where bile farming persists.
And once the cages are empty – they can never be refilled.
The legal loophole and grey area of ownership, which has allowed bear bile farming to persist, will be closed. Forever.
After that point, there will be no confusion. Any bear in private hands will be illegal. And the cruelty of bear bile farming will be a thing of the past.
https://www.animalsasia.org/us/medi...ear-bile-farming-heres-what-happens-next.html
 

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MoonBearMonday: Two blind bears find all the love they’ll ever need
[video=youtube;2ggf1gJ4Vgo]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ggf1gJ4Vgo[/video]

Rescued moon bears Mityan and Bill have a shared history. Both spent up to a decade caged on Chinese bile farms suffering regular, painful bile extraction.

Mityan’s body was mutilated. A permanent passage was cut from his gall bladder to his abdomen from which his bile dripped – to be collected and sold for use in traditional medicine.

Tragically both bears are blind due to retinal atrophy – a vital part of their eyes has literally wasted away. Ophthalmologists and vets agree poor nutrition and chronic inflammation as a result of bile extraction were likely factors.

But Mityan and Bill are actually two of the lucky ones. They have been rescued from bile farms and have spent more than a decade in the peace of Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre – the only sanctuary for bears in the entire country.

At least 10,000 other bears are not so lucky and continue to be held on industrial scale bile farms across the country where their bile is extracted for traditional medicine.

Animals Asia’s China Bear and Vet Team Director Nic Field said:

“Bill and Mityan live happily in a community with 5 other blind bears – and all of them live relatively active lives. They know each other well by scent, sound and touch and are completely relaxed with each other.

“They are among some of the most playful bears in their group as well as the sanctuary and enjoy spending time together, whether gently wrestling, playing or just sleeping and relaxing.
Serious eye problems are tragically fairly common among ex-bile farm bears. While a total of 10 bears are completely blind at Animals Asia’s China sanctuary sanctuary, 60% of the 80 bears on site live with some level of ocular disease which requires ongoing specialist attention.

The range of eye problems runs from retinal detachment and lens luxation, which both result in blindness, to cataracts, lesions and ulcers, which can cause pain and severe loss of vision.

Animals Asia’s Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“While the age of the bears at the sanctuary certainly has a part to play in the very high instances we’re seeing of ocular disease, I believe the primary cause is the extreme conditions the bears have endured on bile farms.

“No animal is capable of enduring such atrocious treatment without serious repercussions and even bears – so strong and stoic – are no exception. Their bodies have been subjected to the most abominable torture and no part of them is unaffected by what is done to them on farms.

“Fortunately, we have found that blindness – when managed correctly – doesn’t have to mean a drop in welfare or quality of life. The blind bears at our sanctuary remain active, playful and happy and are much loved members of the sanctuary community.”
“They seem to take great comfort from each other’s company and it is really quite remarkable how well these blind bears adapt to their environment. They have each suffered harrowing experiences alone for many years, so to see them find happiness and solace in each other feels like such a just reward for them.”

www.animalsasia.org/intl/media/news...bears-find-all-the-love-theyll-ever-need.html
 

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[video=youtube;DDv82Pr75CA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDv82Pr75CA[/video]
She has her first ever name and now she’s free from pain, but moon bear Precious remains wary of humans after years of abuse.
She suffered 17 years of isolation and pain on a bear bile farm, but swiftly after being rescued and brought to sanctuary, moon bear Precious is now pain-free.
During her first health check at the sanctuary, vets removed her fractured and infected lower canine tooth as well as three other teeth suffering from disease.

Her remaining teeth were cleaned and a healthy diet of crunchy vegetables suitable for the species, along with regular health checks, will ensure her teeth remain clean so that dental pain doesn’t return.
Animals Asia Senior Veterinary Surgeon Shaun Thomson said:
“The procedure to remove Precious’s damaged teeth went very well and will greatly improve her quality of life as she no longer has to cope with constant agony.
“Thankfully, closer inspection of her gallbladder – so often damaged by bile extraction – showed the organ was less compromised than first feared and currently doesn’t require surgery.”
Following the medical procedures, Precious returned to an indoor den where she will recover and continue her 45-day quarantine period.
While still kept separate from other bears to maintain quarantine, Precious does now have visual contact with other recently rescued bears Mekong, Star, Kim, Mai and LeBON from August’s #FiveLives rescue and Sky from the #MoonBearMountainRescue in September.

Animals Asia Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt said:
“Precious is still very wary of humans after all she’s suffered. We continue to work on building trust with her on a daily basis, but trust takes time. It’s very likely her rehabilitation will be a much longer process than for other recently rescued bears, but we won’t give up on her. She’ll get all the time she needs.”
After completing a 45-day quarantine period, Precious’s rehabilitation will see her eventually introduced to other bears, and, when she is physically and psychologically ready, she will receive access to a large outdoor enclosure.
https://www.animalsasia.org/intl/me...ecious-free-of-pain-after-dental-surgery.html
 

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Circus trauma left moon bear cub Sugar too scared to eat, but in sanctuary life grows sweeter every day
[video=youtube;-4y7yWCkuhA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4y7yWCkuhA[/video]
Patience, love and expert care has given bear cub Sugar the confidence she needs to know she is safe after the horror of poaching and circus trauma.

When Animals Asia investigators discovered moon bear cubs Sugar and Spice being forced to perform in a Vietnamese circus, the duo were traumatised.
On stage, the sisters were made to ride motorbikes, and when they inevitably crashed, the ringmasters simply hauled the cubs back to their feet by the scruff of the neck and put them back on the bikes.

Even once rescued and safely at Animals Asia’s award-winning Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, Sugar remained deeply scared of humans.
She spent her days hiding on a high platform or cowering behind her bolder sister Spice and never dared to eat in front of her carers.

But Animals Asia’s bear care team are the most experienced in the country when it comes to caring for abused bear cubs and they knew that with love, patience, persistence and expert care, Sugar would come to realise she was safe.

Animals Asia Senior Bear Manager Sarah van Herpt said:

“The transformation we’ve seenWhen rescued, Sugar and Spice, who are siblings, weighed just 36 and 50 kilogrammes respectively and are believed to be under a year old.

With no survival skills nor safe space for wild release, it is expected that both cubs will spend the rest of their lives – hopefully up to 30 years – in Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, the only sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries in the country.

An Animals Asia investigation in 2017 revealed that circuses across Vietnam were routinely forcing endangered and protected species to perform while 100% of facilities failed to meet the basic needs of the animals.

To date, no facility has been able to explain the origin of their protected species, yet the rescue of Sugar and Spice marks the first time the authorities have taken punitive action against a circus or tourist facility in possession of a protected species. in Sugar has been simply amazing. She was incredibly traumatised, but now she has learned to trust her carers and will even come to be hand fed.

“She is spending lots of time outside playing with her sister and looks incredibly happy and relaxed when playing with puzzle feeders or relaxing on her favourite swing.”
When rescued, Sugar and Spice, who are siblings, weighed just 36 and 50 kilogrammes respectively and are believed to be under a year old.

With no survival skills nor safe space for wild release, it is expected that both cubs will spend the rest of their lives – hopefully up to 30 years – in Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, the only sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries in the country.

An Animals Asia investigation in 2017 revealed that circuses across Vietnam were routinely forcing endangered and protected species to perform while 100% of facilities failed to meet the basic needs of the animals.

To date, no facility has been able to explain the origin of their protected species, yet the rescue of Sugar and Spice marks the first time the authorities have taken punitive action against a circus or tourist facility in possession of a protected species.

With facilities unable to breed bears and their poaching and sale illegal, serious questions remain as to how the animals are being obtained.

Animals Asia is currently petitioning the Vietnam government to ban wild animal performance and send the animals to recognised rescue centres and sanctuaries.

The petition currently has more than 130,000 signatures and will be presented to the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism.

It is unacceptable that animals like Sugar and Spice are being poached from the wild and sold into cruel captivity to be traumatised simply for a moment’s entertainment for the crowd.

Speak up for these voiceless victims, add your name to the petition today demanding all wild animal performances be banned in Vietnam.
https://www.animalsasia.org/intl/me...n-sanctuary-life-grows-sweeter-every-day.html
 
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