Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus), Vulnerable
A new bear rescue center in Vietnam welcomed it's first inhabitants today--four Asiatic Black Bears, also known as Moon Bears. The bears were rescued by police seven months ago, when they were found in the luggage compartment of a bus. The center will eventually be able to hold up to 200 bears.
Animals Asia, the group operating the center, say they hope to end the illegal bear trade in Vietnam. Although it is legal to raise bears, the sale of bear meat and bile are forbidden. However, both are sold in a thriving black market. Some 4000+ bears are still trapped in cages across the country at illegal farms, in part because there is no place for them once they are rescued. Animals Asia hope that by providing a home for these bears, the government will be able to actually enforce the laws.
The use of bear bile for traditional medicine is still widespread and deeply rooted in the culture. Farmers extract the bile from the animals with a syringe, and sell it for use in cures of the eyes and liver, and other illnesses. Animals Asia hope that the center will send a message about the importance of animal protection to the Vietnames people.
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