Animals Asia has unveiled the location of its new sanctuary in Bach Ma, Vietnam, bringing it one step closer to ending the country’s cruel, antiquated and illegal practice of bear bile farming.
The practice has pushed Asiatic black bears (aka moon bears) and Malayan sun bears to extinction in the country. To celebrate this milestone, a host of global superstars joined the organization’s founder chairman Jill Robinson MBE to unveil the location of their new sanctuary.
Jill Robinson MBE, has been an animal welfare pioneer in Asia since 1985 and is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on the cruel bear bile industry, having campaigned against it since 1993. “This is a truly historic day. We are witnessing another monumental chapter in our work with the Vietnamese government that will bring about a definitive end to bear bile farming,” says Jill. “Vietnam is the first country to make bear breeding completely illegal. On behalf of all supporters around the world, I would like to sincerely thank the Vietnamese government and the Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association, who also worked together to ensure that bear bile is no longer prescribed or sold today. I would also like to thank our friends from other organizations, journalists and celebrity friends for supporting and witnessing this remarkable move. Together we can all be proud that soon bears will never again see the world through cage bars or endure the agony of bile extraction – no bear will be left behind.”
Animals Asia was joined virtually by global superstars including Dame Judi Dench, Joaquin Phoenix, Ricky Gervais, James Cromwell, Stephen Fry, Peter Egan, Kesha, Jimmi Simpson, Rick Wakeman and acclaimed conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall. DBE with their video statements to support Animals Asia in this monumental step. Also in Vietnam were actresses Tara Buck, Torrey DeVitto, Marina Squerciati and award-winning photographer Katarina Benzova.
The new sanctuary in Vietnam will leave no bears behind
The new sanctuary is an important milestone for the organization as it brings them to the brink of ending the cruel practice of bear bile farming in the country. The practice has threatened Asiatic black bears (aka moon bears) and sun bears in the country with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as critically endangered, with an estimated 31% overall decline over the past 30 years.
The latest surveys show that there are still around 310 bears on farms in Vietnam. After signing a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnamese government in 2017, the organization has started rescuing these remaining bears and bile farms have been permanently shut down one by one in the country. Animals Asia’s award-winning current bear sanctuary in Tam Dao, Vietnam is now nearing full capacity; The organization is about to break ground on a new sanctuary to begin rescuing the remaining bears on farms.
This new 12-hectare sanctuary will be located in the beautiful, mountainous setting of Bach Ma National Park and will eventually be home to all rescued bears. Once the last bear is saved, this trade will be history for Vietnam and set a precedent for other countries in the region to follow. And for Animals Asia, it will be the achievement of one of its founding goals – ending bear bile farming in Vietnam.
The star-studded Vietnam event unveiled Vietnam’s last remaining bear sanctuary
To raise awareness of this monumental step in biodiversity conservation, the organization’s high-profile supporters traveled from around the world to Vietnam to celebrate the inauguration ceremony of the new protected area. Acclaimed movie stars Tara Buck (True Blood), Torrey DeVitto (The Vampire Diaries, Chicago Med), Marina Squerciati (Chicago PD), reality TV personality Josh Packham (Love Island), award-winning photographer Katarina Benzova and Vietnamese actress Tang Thanh Ha visited the organization’s current sanctuary in Tam Dao on May 24-25.
The center now houses almost 200 bears and is a model of successful cooperation between one non-governmental organization and the government work together to protect and conserve endangered and threatened bear species.
Led by Jill Robinson, Vietnam Country Director Tuan Bendixsen and Bear & Vet Team Director Heidi Quine, the stars had the opportunity to discover and enjoy life at the Tam Dao sanctuary. They watched the bears forage, played, took a bubble bath, and the organization’s knowledgeable staff told them about the bear care and enrichment programs. The group also visited the herb garden on the Tan Dong Primary School campus, where students grow herbal alternatives to bear bile and learn about wildlife conservation through Animals Asia’s comprehensive education programme.
Animals Asia and their prominent supporters then attended the blue ribbon event on May 27 to unveil the plans for the new Bach Ma sanctuary. The event featured the organization’s high-profile supporters via videos, such as Joaquin Phoenix, Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Peter Egan, Kesha, Jimmi Simpson, Rick Wakeman, Alan Cumming and Dr. Jane Goodall. DBE who lent their voices to this fantastic cause. Gervais recently announced he has donated £142,414.47 to Animals Asia from the platinum ticket sales of his stand-up show Supernature.