years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Animals Asia's Moon Bear Rescue Centre is located in Tam Dao National Park in Vinh Phuc Province, covering 12 hectares of Chat Dau Valley. The sanctuary will provide lifetime care for about 200 bears and will employ around 100 local and international staff.
The sanctuary is modelled largely on Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue Centre in China, which is a world-class bear rehabilitation centre. A natural environment is always the best place for the bears, but because they can never be reintroduced to the wild, the sanctuary is designed and equipped to encourage their natural behaviours.
As of September 2012, Animals Asia had rescued 111 bears in Vietnam, with 104 still living happily at the sanctuary. Fourteen of the bears were rescued as tiny cubs, confiscated from smugglers en route to bear farms.
When completed, the rescue centre will comprise the following:
Quarantine facility for 50 bears
Five double bear houses with large outdoor enclosures, each with an area of around 2,000 square metres
Rehabilitation enclosure for the physical and mental rehabilitation and integration of bears into groups
Special-care enclosure for bears with severe disabilities,
Cub house, specially designed to care for cubs in various stages of growth
It will also include a food storage facility, staff and administrative quarters, education/visitor centre and utilities (waste treatment facility, power and water supply) to support the centre operation. To date, a third of the construction has been completed.
The rescue centre’s location right behind the national park headquarters is ideal as it not only makes it easily accessible, which is a prerequisite for efficient animal rescue and care, but also facilitates comprehensive and far reaching educational work.
The rescue centre will become a focal point for public education regarding bear conservation and welfare ― from evolution and ecology to their status in the wild today. Increased information, knowledge and awareness regarding the conservation and welfare problems behind the bear bile trade has the potential to raise people’s concerns about using bile and hopefully reduce the future demand for bear bile.
Cruelty-free alternatives to bile will also be a major focus of the education programme. The centre will create a herb garden containing plants and flowers that are herbal replacements for bear bile, thus providing alternatives for bile in traditional medicine.
The education facility, established at the front of the centre with large viewing areas, will allow visitors to watch bears in a unique natural setting, increasing their knowledge and awareness of this endangered species.
Restoring the bears’ health
Many bears are missing limbs, suffering from arthritis, peritonitis, weeping ulcers and severe mental distress when they arrive at the sanctuary. They need full-time care, regular health-checks and ongoing medication to address their injuries and long-term ailments. Each rescued bear undergoes a health-check shortly after arrival at the sanctuary and scheduled regularly thereafter. Bears are also taken for a check-up if they show signs of sickness, loss of appetite or mobility problems. Many of the bears need to have their gall-bladders removed because of the severe damage caused by bile extraction on the farms.
After surgery, the bears spend at least three months in recovery cages where their health is carefully monitored before they are released into a den and adjoining semi-natural outside area. While in their recovery cages,
the bears enjoy a variety of enrichment ― as well as delicious food and plentiful fresh water, they also get refreshing showers, browse (greenery) to fashion beds for themselves, bamboo treats and kongs (durable rubber toys that the bears love to chew and toss around). The enrichment items change daily on a rotational basis, ensuring the bears stay alert and interested.
Specially designed hanging-basket beds are built into each den and enclosure furniture is designed taking into consideration the
bears’ physical needs. Added to this, the fresh browse, novel objects and feeding strategies ensure that we offer our bears an ever-changing environment.
We have expert veterinary and animal management staff from around the world on site to ensure our bears get around-the-clock care.