Vietnamese authorities seek release of maltreated bears from private farms

By Bui Tran, Thanh Nien News

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 2 captive bears died in the northern province of Quang Ninh on January 28. Photo credit: Lao Dong

Vietnam's agriculture ministry has ordered the northern province of Quang Ninh to help rescue captive bears at local farms, following reports of mistreatment of the animals, according to local media. 
Under the order, the bears should be sent to at a rescue center operated by Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation in neighboring Vinh Phuc Province. 
Not long before the government’s intervention, the provincial authorities claimed that they could not step in to save the captive bears due to legal obstacles. 
Around 50 bears are being kept at private farms across Quang Ninh, compared to 152 more than one year ago, Lao Dong newspaper reported. 
This sharp fall in the number of bears is believed to be a result of negligence as farm owners allegedly left the animals to starve, after they were banned from extracting bear bile to sell to tourists in May 2014.
Speaking to the newspaper previously, an official from Quang Ninh’s forest protection department said most of the bears suffer from serious malnutrition and health deterioration. And they are rather old, between 15 and 20 years of age.
He said all of the bears have been microchipped; therefore, they are all legal and privately owned and the department could not just take them away.
He also said there are no regulations on how much bears have to be fed, so authorities cannot intervene when the bears are malnourished either.

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