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Prison Break Bears - Vietnam

$2,257 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 37 people in 11 months

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. According to the latest Vietnamese government figures 750 bears remain locked up in tiny cages, but we won’t rest until this number is zero.


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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 25 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.

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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!

Thank you

Bear farming FAQ   | Background to bear farming    

#betterlife4bears    #endbearfarming  #prisonbreakbears 


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Bear owner arrested!

A Thai Nguyen province bear owner who professed to love his bear has been unmasked as a serious wildlife criminal following a raid of his property by the local authorities.

Two unchipped illegal bears were found plus a massive haul of dead animals and parts including a frozen 200 kg tiger, an Asian Golden Cat, three macaques, a quantity of bear paws, 19 turtles, 86 kg of animal bones and tissue, and 50 kg of assorted tiger and other wildlife parts.

Kudos to the Environment Police and the Forest Protection Department for this collar. The subject is now in custody and the bears have been transferred to the Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Center at Soc Son.

See video here: http://bit.ly/bearfarmraid

#prisonbreakbears #endbearfarming #betterlife4bears

(Image credit - Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Center)
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Sad News

Cao Bang has become the 26th farm-bear free province in Vietnam. However, the breakthrough is tinged with sadness as it came about due to the death of the province’s last remaining bear.

We had been in talks with the bear’s owner for some time, as he was the last holdout in the province. However, the owner refused to budge and the impasse has been broken only by the untimely death of the bear.

Approximately 740 bears are languishing in rusty cages on bear farms across Vietnam. We are working hard to get the cruel and illegal industry closed down, and the surviving bears re-homed at Vietnam’s three international gold standard bear rescue centers. Help us unlock more cages. Time is running out.

#endbearfarming #prisonbreakbears #betterlife4bears
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Dear donors

Thank you so much for your support. Much has happened since our last update.

Just last month, in something of a coup, we handed over a 5000-signature petition calling for the ending of bear farming. What’s remarkable is that all the signatures are from residents of Phuc Tho, the largest bear farming hotspot in Vietnam!

Locals are clearly getting on board with the ENV bear farm messaging and are now calling on the area’s People’s Committee to finish off the industry once and for all. Currently, there are circa 170 farm bears remaining in the district, and we are working hard to get that number down to zero. Doing so would provide us with massive leverage to get other bear farming provinces to follow suit and give their bears a better life at a rescue center.

To this end we have just released a showcase video highlighting the better life awaiting bears at Vietnam’s dedicated bear rescue centers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcCMxvxhm40
The video gives the local authorities and bear owners much better optics on the superior care and rehabilitation that is available at the international gold standard rescue centers we work with.

Meanwhile, the closing date is approaching in our schools’ letter writing challenge. We asked school students the length of Vietnam to write letters to bear owners urging them to surrender their bears. The response has been phenomenal. With less than a month to go to the entry deadline, we have had in excess of 62,000 letters delivered to our office so far.

The youngsters have certainly taken the challenge to heart and produced some amazing letters. Here are just two from the legion of quotable quotes they contain:

“Every creature has a soul. They are also afraid of death. But sometimes death is still better than being tortured every day. Looking down from heaven, I saw bears still suffering so much to serve human bottomless greediness. Is the money from selling our bile enough to pay back for your loss of dignity and humanity?” (letter from a dead bear) - Yen Vy from Quang Ninh, age 17

“All creatures are born with equal rights, especially the right of freedom. As for animals, they also need to live freely, peacefully, and without being abused. How can we, human, live happily in freedom while bears are caged instead of living in the wild? This is not fair!” - Y Ngan from Kon Tum, age 14

Again, thank you for donations and words of encouragement. Be assured we are working tirelessly to consign this cruel and illegal industry to the history books. If you haven’t already done so, please feel free to share the link to our appeal page

All the best

Team ENV
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Another one down!

An Asiatic bear that has spent a lifetime in a cage in Lào Cai province, Vietnam is finally on the road to freedom.

ENV is delighted that we have arrived at this point having first heard the bear owner express an interest in giving up his bear during a joint ENV/Forest Protection Department visit in November last year. We were able to advise on a suitable rescue center.

The ensuing patient dialogue came to fruition yesterday when our fellow non-profit organization arrived to transfer the female bear to a rescue center at Tam Dao.

More bears to follow soon :)

#prisonbreakbears #endbearfarming #betterlife4bears
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$2,257 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 37 people in 11 months
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