Bear bile farming nearing extinction in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Traditional Medicine Association has now pledged to end use of bear bile in its practices by the year 2020.

That’s even though bear bile farming was technically outlawed in 1992 when government approval was required to keep bears, and later CITES, the Conventional on International Trade in Endangered Species, further deemed exploitation of bears illegal.

Still, the groundbreaking announcement came at a press conference in Hanoi Monday between Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia, and the Traditional Medicine Association chairman Dr. Tran Van Ban. 

“We have worked with Animals Asia since 2010 to push for our members to instead use one of the many herbal alternatives,” Dr. Van Ban. “The use of bear bile is now only among a minority of traditional medicine practitioners and it is something we do not condone. We believe around 5 per cent still persist – by 2020 we are making a commitment that through our ongoing education of practitioners that will be zero.”


The news came as the non-profit animal welfare organization stepped in and rescued seven moon bears from a bile farm in Quang Ninh. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister’s office ordered every captive bear in the province be released to the care of a sanctuary by September in order to make the region bear-bile farm-free.

Animals Asia has already rescued more than 550 bears from the industry in Vietnam and China. It has 132 bears in its sanctuary right now. There are still an estimated 10,000 bears kept on bile farms in China. Another 2,000 are believed to be at farms in Vietnam, higher than when Animals Asia began working int the region in 1999.


Still, Robinson believe the group has made an impact. It has been freeing caged bears and educating traditional medicine practitioners.

“Now even the traditional users of bear bile are stating ‘enough,'” she said in a statement. “We are seeing farms close, bear numbers drop, and together we are making an unequivocal public commitment. The will to eradicate bear bile farming from Vietnam has never been higher – surely this is the time to draw that line?”

Tuan Bendixsen, Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director, said phasing out bear bile by 2020 is realistic. “We are seeing numbers of caged bears plummeting, because the market for bear bile is disappearing. Piece by piece this jigsaw is coming together,” Bendixsen said. “…The campaign to end this cruelty is gathering momentum – we want to draw a line for when bear bile farming ends.” What does all this mean? Well, take Andrew. This was Andrew in 2000. This cage was his home until Animals Asia came along and counted him as one of its first rescue bears. bilebearandrewcaged Andrew was rehabilitated, loved and became a popular resident at the group’s sanctuary. But years later, surgery revealed a tumour that couldn’t be treated. He died in 2006. bearbileAndrew Here are some posts from the latest rescue. A new cohort of bears will realize the freedom Andrew felt.

This is what bear bile farming has done to Kay. Her hell ends …

#ForgetMeNot Rescue LIVE: The awful awful sight that our team met with today in Quang Ninh, Vietnam. This is poor Kay. This is what bear bile farming does to bears. The good news is that she is already in a transport cage on our rescue truck and is heading to a new home. We need to make her well again. We need to give her the better life she deserves. This is not right.LIVE Timeline: – please keep following and sharing.If you'd like to donate towards the cost of the rescue and the future care of the bears please do so here. We need your help: you so much.

Posted by Animals Asia on Monday, September 21, 2015

The team called it a “text book” rescue. Believe me there is no such thing. Angry owners. Heat and high humidity to…

Posted by Animals Asia on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Jill welcomes the #ForgetMeNot Rescue bears homeLIVE: The seven #ForgetMeNot bears have made it home to our Vietnam sanctuary and the final word goes to our founder Jill Robinson. Today’s full timeline is here:, if you would like to donate towards the cost of this rescue and the future care of Kay, Emmy, Rose, Long, Hoa, Quang Yen and Tuffy go here: Jill says – we cannot do this without you. Until the cruelty ends… somedays that doesn’t seem quite so far away.Thank you so very much for believing in us and what we do. We love you all.

Posted by Animals Asia on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Photos Animals Asia/Flickr

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