As a galaxy of global superstars, lead by comedian Ricky Gervais, pop star Mýa, actors Dame Judi Dench, Olivia Newton John and Tzi Ma, and renowned conservationist Dame Jane Goodall, have come together to record an impassioned video calling for a reset of humanity’s relationship with nature in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and its zoonotic origins, two baby bears have attempted to steal the limelight.
In mid-July, as the celebrities recorded their video messages, Animals Asia rescued two three-month-old moon bear cubs that had been illegally trapped and put on sale on the black market, and are now taking care of them at the NGO’s sanctuary in Tam Dao, Vietnam.
The actors, musicians and conservationists came together – virtually – to raise awareness of the plight of the Asiatic black bear, or ‘moon bear,’ and the urgent need to end the practice of bear bile farming – where bears are held in tiny cages so that their bile can be extracted for use in traditional medicine. NGO Animals Asia, which created the video to mark Moon Bear Day on August 8th, aims to rescue 500 bears currently in bear bile farms in Vietnam by 2022, so they can live out their lives in a sanctuary with world class care. To date, Animals Asia has rescued 634 bears, and has agreement with Vietnamese authorities to completely end bear bile farming in Vietnam by 2022.
“Thanks to the work of Animals Asia, Vietnam’s traditional medical association has agreed to stop prescribing bear bile. Animals Asia is also working respectfully with communities throughout Vietnam, including in areas which have been bear farm hotspots. They’re educating kids in the wider community about animal welfare, and training up Vietnamese veterinarians and animal welfare specialists.” she continued. “I am proud to support the changes that will help moon bears in Vietnam – my country and my mother’s country.”
About Moon Bear Day
Moon Bear Day was created to mark the anniversary of the founding of Animals Asia on 8
August 1998, and is an annual opportunity to bring attention to the plight of the Asiatic black bear, or ‘moon bear’, and to further Animals Asia’s work to end bear bile farming.
Bear Rescue Sanctuaries
Animals Asia operates world-class bear rescue sanctuaries in Chengdu, China and Tam Dao, Vietnam, where bears are rehabilitated and cared for, and where our bear teams gather vital evidence on the effects of bile extraction. The sanctuaries provide the bears with comfortable dens and semi-natural enclosures where they are able to recover in safety and spend the remaining years of their lives in the company of other bears. To date, Animals Asia have rescued 634 bears.
Zoonotic Diseases and Respect for Nature
With statistics showing that approximately 75% of emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are zoonotic (animal based), accounting for billions of cases of illness and millions of deaths each year, our treatment of animals is now fully in the spotlight.
About Bear Bile Farms
The extraction of bear bile from live bears causes unimaginable suffering and long term health problems for these physically and psychologically damaged animals. A number of techniques exist, all of which are particularly gruesome. While the techniques vary between Vietnam and China, each involves bears being kept in tiny cages. Extraction methods range from “free drip” where the bear suffers a hole in their gallbladder, to the insertion of permanent catheters.
Bear bile has been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. It contains high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) known to be useful for treating liver and gallbladder conditions. However, there are now many readily available herbal and synthetic alternatives with the same medicinal properties, there is no argument for the use of bear bile.
With over 10,000 bears held on legal bear bile farms in China, Animals Asia is working with the farmers, the government, traditional medical associations and community to build trust and awareness around the animal welfare issues associated with the trade, highlight the dangers that consumption of wildlife products like bear bile present to humans, and promote the use of synthetic and plant based substitutes to bear bile as a more humane alternative. In Vietnam the figure is reportedly around 438; although the practice was outlawed in 1992, numbers of bears on farms continued to rise until 2005, when all bears were microchipped to stem any further expansion to the industry.
Animals Asia’s outreach in both bear farming and non-bear farming areas also addresses herbal alternatives to bear bile, the welfare of other captive animal species. and general wildlife protection.