VIDEOS: Life for a farm bear | Teacher gets schooled about bear bile | First steps outdoors for Misa
How does a bile bear get to a bear sanctuary?
After a lot of relatively unsung and painstaking work is the short answer. Ultimately, the arrival at the gates of the bear sanctuary is the last link in a long chain of events. But thanks to cute social media videos of bears experiencing the outdoors for the first time, we tend to overlook the process by which all of this is possible.
ENV Wildlife Conservation Trust does not operate bear rescue centers. What we do is break the bears out of their cages and get them on the road to a better life.
And you can help too by joining our escape committee and unlock the last remaining bear farm cages in Vietnam by making a donation to support our vital work. Even a small donation will have an immediate impact on our work.
According to the latest Vietnamese government figures fewer than 700 bears remain locked up in tiny cages, down from a high of 4,200. But we won’t rest until this number is zero.
Find out more about ENV's bear program
We are continually chipping away at this total in conjunction with the Vietnamese government and our coalition partners. To date there are 26 bear farm-free provinces in Vietnam, and together we are working to expedite a complete end to the cruel and illegal bear bile industry.
A road map is in place and progress is being made, but what is the actual process of springing bears?
Breaking bears out
Over the years much time and energy has been expended on building up relationships with the local authorities on the ground including People’s Committees and the Forest Protection Department. For more than ten years we have been cultivating the political will to bring about an end to bear farming, and strengthening bear farm management systems and bear farm legislation to ensure no bears are being captured from the wild.
At grassroots level, too, we have proactively engaged with bear farm owners on a collective and individual basis to persuade them that the bear farm is a relic of the past and that they ought to hand over their remaining bears to the authorities. Hotspots, such as Phuc Tho near Hanoi, have been consistently targeted via messages at market places, banners and a schools’ program geared to hastening the end of bear farming once and for all.
Part of this hands-on approach also includes a monthly mail out of postcards to all bear owners with a message urging them to do the right thing. This not so subliminal messaging gets the point across repeatedly, and in time wears down bear owners. Each month we are sending out fewer and fewer postcards.
Find out what life is like for bears on a bear farm
However, this supply side strategy must be supported by an equally vigorous campaign to curb consumer demand for bear bile. Again, we are on the ball. As well as engaging with the public directly through exhibitions and awareness raising events, ENV also produces Public Service Announcement videos urging the public to reject bear bile consumption and rely instead on cheaper, more readily available and effective modern medicine.
This holistic messaging is helping bear owners to buy into the reality that bear bile farming in Vietnam is on its last legs, and that bear keeping is an expensive and ultimately pointless exercise.
The charm offensive that is our bear campaign is not an overnight phenomenon or a quick fix. By necessity it is an ongoing and unrelenting campaign that takes time to change hearts and minds on the issue of bear farming. Turning bear owners around takes time, resources and patience.
With your help we can sustain the pressure and conduct the vital groundwork that paves the way from bear farm to bear sanctuary. Don't wait. Donate today!
- Sarah McLaughlin
- Joan Huddleston
- Thu Lekovish
- Joan Huddleston
- ADAM BENZION