7 bile bears rescued

Nov 2020

Ninh Binh

Rescue of 7 Bile Bears

Asiatic black bears La, Lam, Sang, Dua, Khe, Oi and Xoai begin their new lives at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh 


For the seven Asiatic black bears, who only knew life behind metal bars on two farms for almost 20 years – their new lives have just begun after our biggest bear rescue in 2020! The bears had no names, they were just known as numbers and have been farmed for their bile in the Binh Duong province all of their lives. These bears have endured a lifetime of misery and suffering. Years without any mental stimuli, a species-appropriate diet, or even access to water. It is almost unbearable to imagine what these bears have endured for so long.  

When FOUR PAWS found out about the bears, it was certain that they must be rescued! Negotiations and preparation began in order to bring them to a species-appropriate life at our BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Unfortunately, such a rescue took lengthy planning, and when a typhoon hit Vietnam just days before their planned rescue, the bears had to wait even longer. 

But as the typhoon cleared, the team set out on their mission to rescue these bears and save them from their misery once and for all. Under our care, these bears were no longer just numbers, and the seven bears would get new names to start their new lives: La, Lam, Sang, Dua, Khe, Oi, and Xoai.  

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As the team arrived onsite, everything went smoothly as all seven bears calmly walked into their transport crates, of course, with some tasty honey to help the process. In their crates, the bears remained calm as they received a meal, lots of straw, banana leaves and fresh water; all things they probably had never experienced before.

On the over 990-mile journey across Vietnam to our sanctuary, which took 2 days and almost 40-hours of driving, the bears received water and meals regularly. After the bears arrived at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, it was time for their recovery process to begin. 

While the bears are finally safe, they are not healthy. During the rescue, our veterinarian observed worrying symptoms that could indicate several health issues. This is not unusual, as bears that were abused for years in tiny cages on farms for their bile always have a variety of health problems. Dental disease is common, along with mobility issues and gallbladder and liver infections from the unsanitary bile extraction process.

For now, the seven bears are settling in at our sanctuary. They are in a comfortable environment where they will soon receive full medical vet checks and their healing can truly begin. We will update you on their progress soon!

Update January 2021

Since their arrival at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, the seven bears have been under constant observation from the onsite team. All of them need to be treated for particular health issues, and their journey to full recovery will be a long one. However for some of them, we already have some good news! Dua and Oi are socialized, whilst Sang and Khe have quickly adapted to their new environment, better than any other former bile bear at the sanctuary, and are enjoying their beautiful outdoor enclosures. The other bears are still in the bear house but we hope they will soon be able to explore outside. We will keep you updated on their progress.

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Update June 2021: Farewell Xoai

We had to sadly let go of bear Xoai. After she arrived at our sanctuary in November 2020, during the very first health check it was obvious that she had suffered a lot in the past while living on a bear farm in Binh Duong. She had multiple chronic diseases including kidney, gallbladder, liver, heart and degenerative joint disease.

Xoai was being medically treated since her arrival at the sanctuary. However, in the last weeks it was noticed that her mobility was deteriorating. Additional health checks were done and further enclosure modifications made to help her move around more, however, they didn’t improve her situation and she continued to become weaker on her hind legs. The difficult decision had to be made in order to prevent her from further suffering, and after only seven months with us, we sadly had to let her go.

Xoai was known by her caretakers as a very sweet and gentle bear. She enjoyed long naps in the grass or on a pile of hessian bags. She always took all her medication no matter how bad tasting they were. She loved honey treats and sunflower seeds the most.

We are grateful to have had the chance to bring some peacefulness and happy moments into her life during her last few months with us.

Rest in peace beautiful gentle Xoai.

Bear Xoai enjoying the outdoors
Bile bear

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