The actor and long-time activist is working with Animals Asia to raise awareness about the new sanctuary and demand an end to bear bile farms. The new sanctuary is being built to comfortably hold and care for the last Asiatic black bears and sun bears that are in bear bile farms across the country. Animals Asia has been working for years to end bear bile farms, and this new build won’t be the first sanctuary in the country. Their previous sanctuary houses nearly 200 rescue bears.
Animals Asia was founded in 1998 and has spent years trying to end the horrible realities of bear bile farming in Vietnam. The organization’s founder, Jill Robinson, told PEOPLE that after decades of hard work, they are on “the cusp of ending bear farming once and for all in Vietnam, which is the most thrilling thing ever because of the collaboration of the Vietnam government there.”
There are an estimated 310 bears still on bile farms around the country who need to be moved to sanctuaries. The existing sanctuary in Vietnam is nearly full, which is why they have begun to build a second sanctuary.
Bear bile farming consists of locking bears, usually Asiatic black bears or sun bears, in wire cages so small they cannot move around. The animals are hooked up with catheters and are “milked” for their bile over and over again for the rest of their lives. Their bile is then used in traditional medicine.
Robinson, told PEOPLE, “Because the bears are kept in tiny wire cages for their entire life, they have multiple physical and psychological problems. Very often, when we rescue them, the first thing that we’re looking at is what we call ‘Broken bears,’” she said.
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