Five Asian black bears kept in captivity for 21 years in a house in Hanoi are now free after their owners handed them over to rescuers.
The animals had been captured as cubs.
The family in Phuc Tho District bought them in Son La, a mountainous province in the north, in 2002 and kept them in cages. The family said they have kept the bears for “commercial purposes.”
The family voluntarily handed them over on Wednesday after persistent efforts by animal rights activists and local authorities to persuade them.
All the bears suffer from fur loss and dermatitis and have been transferred to the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF).
Once they arrive at the foundation’s rescue center, they will have their health monitored for a period before they are released into a sanctuary.
The Hong Kong-based AAF is devoted to ending bear bile farming and improving the welfare of animals across Asia.
The foundation was officially established in 1998, but its teams had started rescuing bears since 1994.
It has offices in Australia, China, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. and moon bear sanctuaries in Vietnam and China.
In the last two years alone it has rescued 14 captive bears in Vietnam.
According to Hanoi’s Forest Protection Department, 116 bears still live in captivity in Phuc Tho District, and authorities will continue to persuade their owners to turn them in.
In most cases, local residents keep their bears to extract their bile for sale.
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