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Illegal products from Vietnam’s horrific bear bile farms reach Australia

2017-05-12

Sydney, 12 May 2017 – Australian Customs have seized close to 130 shipments of suspected bear bile products in the past five years (2012-2016) in contravention of Australian and international law. At least seven of these shipments originated in Vietnam where the horrific practice continues despite the sale and consumption being outlawed in the country for over a decade.


International trade in bear bile products is prohibited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a convention to which Australia and Vietnam are both signatories.


Shocking new footage of ‘bile extraction’ on Vietnamese bear farms has sparked an international call to the Vietnamese Government to bring an end to bear farms. International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS will support the government with stricter enforcement and is building a sanctuary where rescued bile bears will spend the rest of their lives in humane conditions.


“In 2005 the Vietnamese Government took the commendable step to ban the sale and consumption of bear bile,” says Jeroen van Kernebeek, Managing Director of FOUR PAWS Australia. “Despite this, around 1,300 bears still live in extremely cruel conditions in tiny metal cages on approximately 400 ‘bear farms’ across Vietnam and our research suggests many of these bears are still used for bile extraction and that it is easy to illegally obtain bear bile in large quantities on the internet and throughout Vietnam.”
Footage shows anaesthetised bears in tiny cages having bile extracted under horrific conditions. After locating the gallbladder with an ultrasound unit, a long needle is injected through the bear’s abdominal wall into the gallbladder and the bile is extracted through a catheter. FOUR PAWS has seen footage of bears who were inadequately anaesthetised and suffering and distressed during the painful “milking” procedure.

Both the moon bears and the sun bears used for extraction are on the brink of local extinction as a result of relentless illegal poaching, trading and demand for their parts and derivatives.

 

Often caught from the wild, the bears spend their days in a vegetated state, half-starved and dehydrated, suffering from infections caused by crude and unhygienic bile extraction processes and equipment. Regular bile extractions and lack of care and veterinary treatment result in diseases such as abscesses, sepsis and liver cancer. The extremely confined living conditions on bear farms cause chronic behavioural disorders that can even lead to the animals’ mutilating themselves in severe cases.
FOUR PAWS aims to cooperate with the Vietnamese government to achieve a sustainable and animal-friendly solution for the remaining captive bears and to protect wild bear populations.

 

Bear bile is used as an ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Despite the existence of effective alternatives, bear bile is still used to treat ailments ranging from eye diseases to hematoma and digestive disorders.


People around the world can sign a petition to encourage the Vietnamese government to take the necessary measures to end bear farming: www.saddestbears.com/Vietnam

 

Professional photographs and rough cuts of footage of extraction and sale of bile as well as bears on Vietnamese bear farms are available for publication upon request.


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