The Animals Asia Foundation is fighting an audacious scheme allegedly advanced by the director of Tam Dao National Park to evict the conservation group Animals Asia and 104 moon bears from the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, on the edge of the park, and turn the Animals Asia facilities into a zoo. The Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, modeled on a similar site operated by Animals Asia in Chengdu, China, rehabilitates Asiatic black bears, known as moon bears, rescued from bile farms.

Rescued moon bear at the Animals Asia Foundation sanctuary in China (Photo: Kim Bartlett)

The scheme emerged after legislation was introduced in 2011 allowing tourist resorts with environmental credentials to be built on park land.

Animals Asia had in September, 2011, moved ahead with a plan under an agreement with the Agriculture Ministry to build enough enclosures to house 101 more bears, implementing the second phase of their $3.4 million project. But as soon as workers began digging for the foundations of the new bear enclosure, they were told to stop.

The director, Do Dinh Tien, has submitted a proposal to the government to build his own wildlife park in the area. Animals Asia suspects that, should it be forced to leave its bear rescue facility, director Tien would simply appropriate the dens and enclosures belonging to Animal Asia for his own use.

Asiatic black bear in bile farming operation.

Closure of the rescue center would mean that more than 100 bears, rescued from bear bile farms and smugglers, would lose their homes. Seventy-seven Vietnamese staff would lose their jobs. Animals Asia would lose $2 million worth of investment in building and development.

The local economy that depends on the center would be severely impacted and the Vietnamese government’s commitment to ending bear bile farming would be called into question.

At least 32 organizations from 14 nations, co-signed an October 2012 Animals Asia Foundation appeal to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, asking him to “intervene in this matter and ensure that the rescue center remains in Tam Dao National Park.”

Source: Animal People News