Bears raised in captivity face uncertain future
  • By Anh The-Tuyet Nghia | | August 28, 2013 08:59 AM

Hundreds of bears being raised in Hanoi's Phuc Tho District are being poorly treated as the value of their bile has fallen sharply over the last couple of years.


 Advertising boards placed along the streets

For the past 10 years, the Phuc Tho Town and Phung Thuong Village have been well-known for raising bears. In 2000-2003, the price of each cc of bear bile cost up to VND200,000 (USD9.6). At that time, the bear-owners had to pay  VND60-80 million for one bear but they could recover the cost in just a year.

Bear farm A.C. currently has around 30 bears but the price of gall has dropped to VND15-20,000 per cc. The owners said they still have hundreds of cc of bear bile on which they will even pay a commission fee for anyone who can help them move what they have and decrease the inventory.

According to the owners, it costs them VND1 million per bear each month for upkeep, while they can only extract bile twice a year and from that earn a total of VND8 million.


 Bear bile extracted at Phung Thuong Village

When the bile price was still high, the owners prepared fancy food for their bears including yogurt, honey and quality meats. However, the meals  are now the cheapest ingredients they can find which usually means livestock feed. "The bile might have antibiotic substances." an owner said.

"Raising bears now is just a little better than raising pigs because a bear's health is generally better." Nguyen Xuan Hoi, the owner of seven bears in Phuc Tho Town said.

Around 2008, many bears disappeared from the district when the prices started going down.

Loc, another owner said that they once had 83 bears, but due to the decreasing prices, they transferred 14 bears to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre. Meanwhile, other owners would sell their bears to restaurants or hotels and report to the forest rangers that they had died from sickness.


 Owners now feed the bears with cheapest meals

Le Van Hung, Deputy Head of Dan Phuong Forest Ranger Country said in 1990, eight households raised 100 bears and in 2005, they had 59 bear farms with 325 bears. This figure decreased to 37 households with 257 bears as of April 2013.

According to the law, households are allowed to raise bears but they are not allowed to kill them for meat or extract bear bile for sale. These regulations, of course, have been violated often for high profits.


 Caged bear

Currently, many households want to get rid of the bears as fast as possible but the bears all have chips implanted  by the rangers, making a disappearance very noticeable. The owners said they are willing to return the bears to the government as long as they are compensated for part of their capital expenditure.

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