Chinh’s Rescue Diary

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Chinh’s Rescue Diary

[Ed. Note: Visit our image gallery to see crush cages and the horrors inflicted on bears.]

From Animals Asia

Moon Bear Rescue
In countries across Asia, thousands of bears live a life of torture on bear farms, so that their bile can be extracted and used in traditional medicine to cure ailments ranging from headaches to hemorrhoids. Bears are confined in cages which vary from agonizingly tiny "crush" cages to larger pens, all of which cause terrible physical and mental suffering.

The farm – now closed forever...

Animals Asia's Vietnam rescue team has just spent three grueling days on the road bringing these 19 bears "home." Chinh, who joined the convoy, is recording the rescue. Here's his first diary entry (more coming soon).

Monday, 18 January 2010: We're just about to set out from the farm – a factory site where the bears were kept in such bad conditions. They are still in the awful cargo containers they've been trapped in, but at least they are with us now and soon they'll know a completely new life.

The farm – now closed forever – was in the industrial southern province of Binh Duong, a long way from our sanctuary in the Tam Dao National Park near Hanoi in the north. And because we want to make the trip as gentle as possible for the bears, we're going to take it slowly, which means three days on the road.

I'm Animals Asia's Education Officer and I'm travelling in the support van with the rest of the Animals Asia team. My job is to record the rescue. So far, everything has gone smoothly. We arrived at the farm at first light and met up with the three trucks we'd arranged earlier.

The bears were amazingly calm as they were lifted hydraulically onto the trucks, still in the metal containers – six bears in two crates, seven in one. Some were looking out, maybe a little anxious, but mainly just curious I think. They look in fairly good condition.

If everything goes well, we'll be back at the sanctuary in Tam Dao on Thursday morning. We plan to drive all night then stay tomorrow night in Hue, which is right in the middle of Vietnam, then drive through the night again on Wednesday. We need to drive slowly so the bears are not too disturbed.

It's exciting to be a part of this rescue and to know that there is still hope for moon bears in my country. I hope to see more and more farms close down until Vietnam is bear-farm free.

It's now almost 12 noon and we've just enjoyed a simple rice meal in Dong Nai province after leaving Duong Binh and its industrial estates and factories behind. The bears are still calm and all firmly secured on the trucks. We've already had one stop and bear worker Tuan watered the bears and gave them showers, which they loved. It's hot today. The bears also had some great food this morning – watermelon, banana and apple.

The bear farm workers who have looked after these bears for years were there to help us load them onto the trucks. It was surprising that even though they had milked the bears for their bile, causing them such pain, they seemed to care for the bears very much and were sad to say goodbye to them. So I told them how the bears were going to live in a wonderful place where they could run around and play all day.