The Hong Kong-based animal welfare group Animals Asia on Friday ended its six-month mission to rescue dozens of bears which were prone to maltreatment at now-defunct bile farms in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
With the last bear rescued, a total of 33 saved bears have been sent to the group's rescue center in Tam Dao National Park, about 200 kilometers from Quang Ninh, according to the group's press release.
Animals Asia organized the rescue mission, after finding that most of the bears at former bile farms were badly treated late last year.
Under a government order in May last year, Quang Ninh's farms were banned from extracting bear bile often used in traditional medicine to sell to tourists. Since then at least 108 bears at private farms around the province had been starved to death, local media reported early this year.
Animals Asia said even with its latest rescue effort, Vietnam still has over 1,200 bears which are caged and face regular bile extraction.
The bears, mostly moon bears, suffer from tiny cages, inadequate diets, little or no veterinary care and painful extraction practice, it said.
The group pledged to working with other agencies in eliminating bile bear farms from the rest of Vietnam by 2020.
“That we could help bring an end to bile farming in a place previously known as the worst bear bile farming province in Vietnam is something to celebrate, and also a reason to look to the future with optimism," Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said in the statement.
"Vietnam has shown that it wants this situation to end, and that it’s capable of taking the steps to put an end to it once and for all."