Animal welfare organisation Animals Asia, together with the Vietnamese Government, broke ground for a new sanctuary in Vietnam to end bear bile farming forever in the country. The new sanctuary in Bach Ma will be a major milestone for the history of biodiversity and animal welfare in Asia, as it is the last step required to save the remaining 310 bears on Vietnam’s bile farms. Once the last bear is saved, this cruel practice will be history for Vietnam, and will set a precedent for other countries in the region to follow.
Bear bile farming has been pushing Asiatic black bears (aka moon bears), and sun bears towards extinction in the country, as The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as “vulnerable to extinction”, with an overall estimated decline of 31% for the last 30 years.
A ground-breaking moment for the vulnerable species, Vietnam and Animals Asia
The breaking ground ceremony was held in Bach Ma National Park, where the new, 12-hectare sanctuary will sit within the beautiful, mountainous surroundings. Animals Asia’s team was joined by the Vietnamese Government officials, heads of key agencies, and the organisation’s high-profile supporters such as renowned actor and animal rights activist Peter Egan, Downton Abbey’s Mrs Patmore, actress Lesley Nicol, and trustee of Olsen Animal Trust Dave Higgs.
Animals Asia’s founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE, emphasizes the historic importance of the day: “This is a proud moment for Vietnam, and Animals Asia is honoured to be able to partner with the authorities, the people of Vietnam and the Bach Ma National Park in helping bring about this significant milestone in the protection of wildlife across the country. Vietnam is leading the way in animal welfare, and we hope they will serve as a shining example for others to follow.” Jill Robinson is widely recognised as the world’s leading expert on the cruel bear bile industry, having campaigned against it since 1993.
The organisation’s UK Ambassador, actor Peter Egan says, “How many times in our lives we are deeply affected by something, and we feel our life has been changed forever. We feel our life is defined by these kinds of events. My life is defined by my activism work in animal rights. But my work with Animals Asia has always been a special one. From the first time, I set foot in this organisation’s sanctuary in 2013 and decided to be their ambassador, to today, witnessing they are breaking ground for their last sanctuary to end bile farming in Vietnam, my journey with Animals Asia has been a truly life-changing experience. I will leave a piece of my heart here, for following the rescues of the last 300 bears trapped in bile farms one by one; until the last bear is saved and this cruel practice will be history in this beautiful country. “ Egan is the bear guardian to “Peter Bear” since 2013, who is a resident bear in Animals Asia’s sanctuary in China.
Animals Asia’s other high-profile supporters such as Ricky Gervais (video), Dame Judi Dench (video), Stephen Fry (video), Joaquin Phoenix (video), Slash (video), Jimmi Simpson (video), Alan Cuming (video) and Dr Jane Goodall, DBE (video), also congratulated the organisation with their video statements. Last May, Gervais announced that he donated £142,414.47 to Animals Asia from the platinum ticket sales of his stand-up show ‘Supernature’.