Vietnam celebrates inaugural bear day

Lots of ENV volunteers in the new green

Vietnam’s pop diva My Linh and 50 other celebrities joined forces to celebrate Bear Day – calling for an end to the bear bile industry in Vietnam.

Vietnam is home to two species of bear: the Asiatic black bear and Malayan sun bear. Both of these species face serious threats from illegal hunting and trade, and are often sold to bear farms to meet the demand for bear bile and other products made from bears. Today, it is estimated that almost 2,400 bears are being kept on farms. All but a few of these bears originated from the wild.

“The World Society for the Protection of Animals has been working closely with Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) and the Vietnamese government on the phase-out program for many years, especially with the chipping and registration of bears,” says Adam Valvasori, Regional Communications Director with the World Society for the Protection of Animals Asia-Pacific. “With this Vietnam Bear Day event, we hope that Vietnam will set a good example for other countries in enforcing the abolition of the bear bile industry.”

Throughout the country today celebrities and animal welfare activists joined forces with WSPA partners ENV to call for an immediate end to bear farming in Vietnam.

At a press conference in Hanoi, pop superstar My Linh and comedian and actress Minh Vuong represented a collection of Vietnam’s top celebrities in sport, film, music, and entertainment, to highlight the serious threat that bear farming and the bear bile industry pose to the survival of bears in the wild, both in Vietnam and the surrounding region.

“Unfortunately, bears have lost their right to live peacefully in nature,” says My Linh. “Bears are captured and kept in captivity to have their bile extracted. If this continues to happen, I cannot imagine what the future of bears will look like.”

“The bear farming industry in Vietnam poses a major threat to the survival of bears, not just in Vietnam but across the region,” says ENV’s Vice-Director Tran Viet Hung. “Consumers here in Vietnam represent a minority of the population, and there are plenty of alternatives to bear bile that make this cruel and illegal practice of exploiting bears completely unnecessary in today’s modern world. We feel the tide is rising against bear bile farmers who have all but decimated wild populations of bears for their own personal gain, with little consideration for the interests of their communities and the people of Vietnam.”

Mr. Hung called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to reinforce its 2005 commitment to end all bear farming in Vietnam by aggressively enforcing a ban on bear bile extraction, and to work with the public as well as other government agencies to rapidly phase out bear farming altogether.

Also during Bear Day celebrations, ENV announced the winners of a competition for young film-makers to produce a public service announcement (PSA) urging the public not to consume bear bile. You can watch the People’s Choice Award, the Excellent Message Award and the Highly Commended Award winners on YouTube

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