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Bear Rescue Center in Northern Vietnam Expands in Effort to End Bile Farming

Vietnam's most well-known bear sanctuary recently expanded, creating more space for animals rescued from bile farming.

VnExpress reports that Animals Asia, the animal welfare charity, has added a new bear house to its rescue center in northern Vietnam. The expansion, which opened on Wednesday, has space for 40 bears, in addition to the 161 which already live at the facility in Tam Dao National Park, 75 kilometers north of Hanoi.

Bear bile farming has been banned in the country since 2005, according to the news source, but a loophole allows farmers to keep bears they owned before 2007.

Jill Robinson, Animals Asia's founder and CEO, said in a statement that "today marks the beginning of a new hope for 40 bears somewhere in Vietnam who desperately need our help," VnExpress shares.

"As soon as authorities can convince more farmers to give up their long-suffering bears, we'll be there to save them and bring them to their new lives here free of pain and suffering," Robinson added.

Animals Asia shares that bear bile does have medicinal benefits, but herbal and synthetic alternatives are now available, so there is no need to use live bears. The practice of bile farming is gruesome, with bears kept in tiny cages while the liquid is drained from their bodies.

The organization has worked for years to save bears from this fate, and last Friday the Tam Dao Sanctuary welcomed two moon bears who had been held captive in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai for over a decade.

VnExpress adds that in 2005 over 4,000 bears were being kept for bile farming in Vietnam, while today that number has fallen to around 1,000 due to to deaths and rescues.

[Photo via VnExpress]

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