Two bear cubs have been seized from smugglers in Lai Chau province in northern Vietnam by local police, and transferred into the care of Animals Asia by the local Forest Protection Department (FPD). The two traffickers, who were illegally transporting the bears in Than Uyen district, have been arrested.
Animals Asia has transported the cubs to its Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao, near Hanoi, where they will be provided with the care they need. The two male cubs are Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears. Nicknamed Lai Chau and Sin Ho, they weigh approximately 12kg and 9kg respectively, and are estimated to be around three to four months old. Their exact age is unknown, as they may be underweight due to being fed inappropriate food.
The local police had spotted a suspicious motorbike being ridden by two men carrying a cane basket in a remote village. They stopped the bike and found the two cubs in the basket. The men told the police they had bought the cubs for US$1,500 and were going to resell them to an unknown buyer from Lao Cai, the bordering province. It is thought likely that the cubs were on their way to a bear farm in China, owing to the close proximity of Lao Cai to China.
Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam Director, Animals Asia commented:
“The Lai Chau police and local authorities are to be congratulated for enforcing the law, and ensuring the welfare of these cubs. Because of the early intervention and proper care of the forest protection department, both cubs are doing very well and looking healthy.”
Animals Asia embarked on a 24 hour round trip to collect and transport the bear cubs from Lai Chai, a province that borders China, and is approximately 450km north west of Hanoi. The journey was lengthened by terrible road conditions following recent flooding. There were stops every two hours to feed and check on the cubs.
On arrival at the rescue centre, they were transferred from their original FPD cage into a small transport cage. They were taken directly to Animals Asia’s Cub House and into a den that had been especially prepared for them.
Annemarie Weegenaar, Bear and Vet Team Director at Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary commented:
“They’ll be kept inside for the first few weeks, but right now they seem to really enjoy the platform and other structures inside the den. They’re entering the feeding crates to drink their milk, though they haven’t yet shown interest in solid food, apart from some pumpkin. Their coats are not in particularly good condition, most likely due to poor nutrition, but with a few weeks of good milk, and fresh fruit and vegetables, this should improve rapidly.”
There are over 10,000 bears – mainly moon bears but also others such as Malayan sun bears and brown bears – kept on bile farms in China, and around 2,400 in Vietnam. They’re “milked” regularly for their bile, which is stored in the gall bladder. The bile is used as a form of medicine, even though many herbal and synthetic alternatives are available. Starved, dehydrated and riddled with ailments, the bears suffer a living hell.
Animals Asia is working to end bear bile farming in China and Vietnam, where bears are kept in small cages for up to 30 years so their bile can be extracted through catheters, needles and open wounds.
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Animals Asia Foundation http://www.animalsasia.org