|It takes about four hours to take the bears from Nam Định Province to the Việt Nam Bear Rescue Centre in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc. Photo courtesy of Animals Asia|
HÀ NỘI — Three captive bears that were kept on a farm in the northern province of Nam Định were taken to the Việt Nam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Đảo National Park, Vĩnh Phúc province on Tuesday.
A farm owner in Hải Xuân Commune, Hải Hậu District in Nam Định Province voluntarily handed over the bears – a male bear weighing about 100kg and two female animals weighing 80-100kg each – to Giao Xuân Hải Forest Protection Station late last month.
As soon as they were informed about the bears, Animals Asia worked with the Forest Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Nam Định Forest Protection Department to receive them.
However, the rescue was delayed due to national social distancing measures imposed since the beginning of this month.
Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuấn Bendixsen said that they first got the information two weeks ago, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to wait until it was safe for their team to conduct the rescue, “for their safety and the safety of the community.”
According to the province’s Forest Protection Department, besides the three bears, another bear died at the farm, so the department moved the three bears to the local forest protection station.
On Tuesday, Animal Asia’s rescue team reached the station to take the bears to the rescue centre.
This rescue will be more challenging than most, given the need to observe COVID-19 guidelines of wearing masks in public, having no more than ten people gathering at a public/government place, having temperatures taken, and the need for foreign staff to bring passports to show they have not been overseas recently.
“That’s just something we have to factor in,” says Tuấn. “But we have a responsibility to get to these bears as soon as possible. We need to get them back to our rescue centre and give them the chance to finally live happily ever after.”
As soon as they arrive at the rescue centre, the bears would be quarantined for 45 days and treated before being grouped with other bears and re-integrated to a semi-natural environment.
Animals Asia has been rescuing bears in Việt Nam and China for over 20 years, and entered into an exclusive Memorandum of Understanding with the Vietnamese government in 2017 to help rescue all the bears remaining on bile farms to finally end bear bile farming in Việt Nam for good.
Since 2007, Animals Asia has rescued 214 bears and at present, it is taking care of 185 bears at the rescue centre. — VNS