Captive bear killed in Vietnam for biting off arms of 5-year-old boy

TN News

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A man in the northern province of Phu Tho has killed a moon bear he had kept as a pet for 10 years after it bit off the arms of his five-year-old grand nephew, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported.

Vu Hoang Quan was rushed to Phu Tho Hospital September 10 with one arm torn off at the shoulder and the other at the elbow.

According to his family, earlier that day the boy's grandmother had taken him to the house of her brother, Tang Duc, who had the bear, in Thanh Son District.

The woman had let the boy play alone near the cage. He reportedly approached the cage to tease the bear and was bitten.

When adults heard the boy scream, they rushed to the scene and saw his arms had been mauled.

The boy was rushed to Phu Tho Hospital in shock and with severe blood loss.

After being provided emergency treatment, he was transferred to the National Hospital of Pediatrics in Hanoi.

A day after the tragedy Duc electrocuted the animal to death and sold the carcass to a man for VND25 million (US$1,185).

Duc wrote to the Thanh Son District forest division that he killed the bear he had kept for 10 years since he was distraught over the tragedy.

The division said Duc's act was illegal since moon bears are protected.

It said it would work with the local police to investigate the case, adding Duc may be fined.

In 2011 the division had fined Duc VND10 million ($474) for "violating regulations on wildlife protection" and asked him to hand over the animal for releasing in the wild, but he refused.

He had said the bear was given to him as a gift by a senior provincial official and he kept it as a pet and not for business purposes (to extract its bile).

Bear bile extraction was outlawed in 1992 though people are allowed to keep the animals as pets.

In 2005 the government issued a directive permitting people to retain bears as tourist attractions but prohibiting further acquisition. Thanks to this legal loophole, some bear farms continue to extract bile and sell to Korean and Chinese visitors.

Bile is extracted from the gall bladder in a painful procedure for use in traditional medicine. Some 100ml is drawn at a time and sold at US$3-6 per milliliter.

Around 3,500 bears are held in captivity in Vietnam, mostly in the north.

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