Vietnam: 104 rescued bears under threat

Quang Thien bounds across the grass of Animals Asia’s sanctuary in Vietnam.

Authorities were able to confiscate her from a bile bear farm because she had not been microchipped, which is required by law.  Her front left paw is missing, so it’s likely that she was illegally trapped in the wild and then sold.  Her life at the sanctuary is a far cry from her existence in the tiny cage where she was kept imprisoned at the bile bear farm.  She loves being free to run and play with her bear friends. But the Sanctuary and her newly found happy life are now in danger.


104 bears rescued from bile bear farms and the wildlife trade, who were given sanctuary seven years ago, in 2005, at the Tam Dao national park in northern Vietnam, at a beautiful center run by Animals Asia, are now under threat of eviction by Vietnamese authorities.


You can help by writing a letter to the Prime Minister of Vietnam, asking him to intervene on behalf of the bears.  The link is below.


Maple first arrived at the sanctuary almost a year ago, in December 2011, after a long trip from a bile bear farm in South Vietnam. Her many years in a cage and a horrible diet had left her badly overweight, and she had infected teeth.  Still traumatized from her treatment at the bile bear farm, she cried non-stop.  When she was moved into a den at the sanctuary, and given lots of space to move around in, over time, she became calmer and stopped crying.  Now she’s gotten back into shape, has made friends, and is regaining her health and her enjoyment of life.


Animals Asia,  the Hong Kong based organization founded by Jill Robinson that has a reputation as one of the best-run wildlife centers anywhere in the world, expanded their operations from China to Vietnam in 2005, with the generous cooperation of the Vietnamese government, who provided 12 hectares (29 acres) of the Tam Dao national park to be used as a sanctuary for 200 rescued bears.


Animals Asia also worked with authorities to have the extraction of bile from bears declared illegal in Vietnam, which was a major step. Due to a loophole in the law, however, which allows bears to be kept on the farms as tourist attractions, the use of bears for bile, which is part of traditional Chinese medicine, still persists. (Many practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have also condemned the practice.) The process of extracting bile from bears is, in itself, extremely cruel, and means long-term suffering for the bears.


So far, in ongoing rescue operations, 104 bears like Maple and Quang Thien, have been rescued from Vietnamese bile bear farms and now live and play at the sanctuary.


Rescuing these bears has been an ongoing process, undertaken with the help of authorities, and it is only possible for bears to be confiscated if there is a place where they can go and be cared for.  So the closing of the bear sanctuary would also be a severe blow to future efforts to save the 4,000 bears still being kept on bear farms. Bears who have been on bile bear farms can be rehabilitated to enjoy a good quality of life, but they always require lifetime care and cannot be released back to the wild.


Luca arrived at the sanctuary in 2010, with a large group of rescued bears.  He suffered from repetitive head-swaying, which is a form of the kind of stereotypical movement that can be observed in animals in confinement, sometimes in zoos.  It’s a bit like PTSD in people.  Even after he was housed in a roomy den with two bear companions, the head-swaying didn’t stop.


Earlier this year, Luca was moved to a new enclosure where he found a new bear pal, a wrestling buddy, and now that he’s relaxed and at ease, the head-swaying is nearly all gone.


It’s important for all these bears, who’ve spent months or years in rehabilitation and who’ve begun to enjoy life again, that they be able to stay in the sanctuary that is their home, and it’s important for Vietnam to continue the humane course of action that they embarked on, of saving and protecting the bears. It is essential for any government to honor their commitments and to protect the wildlife of their country.


To speak up on behalf of the bears, please email the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung. To do this and to see a sample email, click here.


Photos:  Courtesy of Animals Asia

Egypt: Pet shop campaign underway

The pet shop campaign being conducted by ESAF and the Giza Vet Department is well underway. On October 8 and 15, 2012, they visited three pet shops in Omrania and two pet shops in 6th of October City.

ESAF vets Dr. Moh Gomaily and Dr. Moh A. A. Hay, and Giza vet Dr. Hisham inspected the pet shops,  talking with pet shop managers and owners and offering tips on ways to improve ventilation and let in more fresh air, keep everything clean and tidy, and keep a good eye on the health of the animals.

They handed out fliers and posters that highlighted animal care and safety, encouraged rabies vaccinations, and warned against wild animal trafficking.

Just in case some of the animals might be in urgent need of care, they had brought along an emergency medical bag, but fortunately, it was not needed.

ESAF and officials are working to set up a system for the government to more closely monitor pet shops; it would require licensing and regular inspections.

Photo: Courtesy of ESAF

To visit ESAF’s Facebook page, click here.


Pakistan: Speaking up for animals

In early October, the Save Animal Movement Pakistan held a seminar in Multan, Pakistan, to celebrate both World Animal Day (October 4) and International Vegetarian Week (October 1-7).  Held at the Hotel Shelton, the event featured many speakers who spoke eloquently on behalf of animals in Pakistan, advocating protection for animals of the land, sea, and air.

The President of the Animal Save Movement Pakistan, Kalid Mahmood Qurashi, set out the goal of establishing a vegetarian society, which would both lead to a healthier diet for humans and would also honor the ways of nature by “creating harmony between human beings and animals.”

The seminar covered issues for both wild and domestic animals, such as the welfare of working animals; horses, camels and donkeys  — as well as wildlife needing protection from hunting, so they can be free to follow their natural migratory paths, living out their natural lives, safe from hunting.

Mr. Mustafa Cuhan Adv. recalled the great migration of birds from Siberia which has taken place from time immemorial, affirming that hunting these birds must be banned.

Mr. Allah Nawaz, Durrani Chairman, ASMP, asked central and provincial governments to allocate funding in their budgets for the protection, care, and well-being of animals.

In closing, Mr. Qurashi called for dialogue with the authorities to set up ways to monitor the conditions of working animals, especially in terms of the loads they are carrying and for action to stop the smuggling of wild birds.

He added, “All life is precious, all want to live in peace. Animals are our friends. We believe that all animals are beautiful and should be treated with love and respect, and thank GOD, we are vegetarian. Animals have the power of speech. They even understand our speech. But we don’t have the power of understanding their speech. I wonder why people still call them speechless, because animals speak, but we don’t understand, which doesn’t mean that they don’t have language and communicate amongst themselves.”

Photo: © Maurie Hill / / Cows in a marketplace in Rajasthan in western India.

To visit the Facebook page of Animal Save Movement Pakistan, click here.


Zimbabwe: M.J.’s turn for the better



M.J. has already gained a lot of weight.


Veterinarians for Animal Welfare – Zimbabwe (VAWZ) recently received a request for help from Gweru SPCA concerning a plot there where it was believed there were over 16 dogs in terrible circumstances. The VAWZ team drove the three and a half hours down from Harare.


Surprisingly, the dogs were in better condition than we had feared – all except for one, little M.J., who wasn’t getting enough to eat and was painfully thin.


M.J. didn’t want to be caught. It took us some time to catch her, and when we did, all she wanted to do was bite us! – given the way she was being treated I don’t blame her.


Arriving back at Hararre at Chisipite Vets, just before closing time, we gently placed little M.J. on the surgery table, prepared for the worst, that she might have to be put to sleep. Not a bit of it – Dr Mhuri believed that this frail little body, with the amber- coloured eyes, should be given (against all odds) a chance to live.


The following morning, X-rays revealed that a break in her leg was old and had never been treated. She is believed to be about eight months old. Now dewormed, Frontlined, and receiving antibiotics for an infection, “M.J.” still has a long way to go, but we know she could not be in better hands.


M.J. is capturing people’s hearts. A wellwisher has sponsored all her medical bills, and she already has a loving home to go to when well!





India: Chennai: Blue Cross pulls cattle from a wrecked truck

Dawn Williams feeding bulls rescued earlier this year.

On October 11, Dawn Williams, Manager in Residence, and two Blue Cross ambulances rushed to the scene of an accident involving a truck overloaded with 18 cattle.

The truck illegally transporting the 18 cattle from Andhra Pradesh got into an accident 35 kilometers (21 miles) north of Chennai in the industrial area, Maraimalainagar.

Sadly, two cattle had been killed and nine were injured. All the cattle were in severe distress due to the way in which they had been tied up.

The critically-injured driver and three other injured people had already been taken to the hospital when the Blue Cross team arrived at the scene.

They set to work assisting the cattle, removing the ropes, and lowering the animals to the ground, one by one.

Mr. Dan Phillip, a generous supporter of Blue Cross, arrived to help, and stayed with the team until late afternoon. All the surviving cattle were taken to the Blue Cross Hospital, and then the two who had died were transported to the Madras Veterinary Hospital for examination.

Bulls rescued early this year.

Blue Cross asked the police to require the vehicle owner to come down from Andhra Pradesh to appear at the Maraimalainagar Police Station, which he did the next morning. Dr. Chinny Krishna, Vice Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India, was assured by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Paneerselvam, that the vehicle would be impounded and the owner arrested.

A Blue Cross caregiver feeding the animals.

Earlier this year, during a series of stops on the roads conducted by the Police, Blue Cross rescued over one hundred cattle from similar illegal transport, taking the animals to the Blue Cross shelter and providing food and vet care for them.  Providing shelter to so many large animals, with no advance notice, was not an easy task, especially since most of the cattle were in bad shape, due to injuries and lack of water.

To tackle this ongoing problem, meetings were held among Mr. Ramanujam, Director General of Police, the AWBI, and The Blue Cross officials.

The Director General of Police set up a team of two senior officials – one of whom is Mr. Paneerselvam, Deputy Inspector General, to work with the AWBI and Blue Cross to bring an end to the inhumane, illegal transport of cattle.

Cattle in the thousands are being transported long distances, from Andhra Pradesh, which is north of Chennai, and other Indian states, to Kerala in the southwest of India. In Kerala cow slaughter is legal, though it is illegal in nearly all other Indian states, so the cattle are transported to Kerala, in extremely inhumane conditions.  It is not the transport itself that is illegal, but the overcrowded, cruel conditions.

The problem the police have is that when they stop the trucks carrying the cattle, they want to be sure they can provide for treatment and shelter for the animals. In northern Tamil Nadu, in the Chennai area, Blue Cross has offered to accept all cattle that are confiscated from illegal transport, even though having enough room is a problem.

What is urgently needed are for cow shelters, called goshalas, to be set up throughout all of Tamil Nadu, along the routes where the trucks bring the cattle. Setting up goshalas would allow the Police to be able to stop the trucks carrying the cattle. Until they have places available to receive the animals, it’s hard for them to enforce the law.

The Temple Worshippers Society has released a 30 minute video about this issue, entitled, “Their Last Journey.”

Mrs. Radha Rajan and Mr. Badri directed the video, which contains disturbing, graphic content, that was filmed at great risk by the staff and volunteers of Blue Cross.

The video is now posted on YouTube. To request a copy, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope (in India, Rs. 30 towards Speed Post charges) to Blue Cross of India, 1 Eldams Road, Chennai 600 018.

Thanks to Dr. Chinny Krishna for contributing information for this story.


Photos:  Sharon St Joan / Cows rescued in January and Februrary 2012 by Blue Cross of India

Egypt: ESAF launches their Pet Shop Campaign


An ESAF vet feeding one of the Pyramids horses.




Dr.Mohammed Abd-Elhay writes that the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends (ESAF) has launched a Pet Shop Campaign with the goal of reaching every pet shop in Giza, the city that lies next to Cairo.


They will do an assessment of the pet shop conditions, which generally need a lot of improvement, and while they are there, they will show the pet shop managers and staff how to improve their care of the animals.  In educating the staff, they’ll need to be as diplomatic as possible, making friends along the way, so that the animals will benefit from kinder, more knowledgeable treatment.


During the pet shop visits, they’ll also be offering free treatment for any sick animals.


While certainly there need to be strong laws against animal cruelty, and effective law enforcement,  there’s more than one tool in a toolbox, and legislation is not the only way to bring about better care for pet shop animals.


And yes, we know that it would be far better if animals were adopted, rather than sold,  but to be effective as animal advocates, we must start with the circumstances as we find them, not as we wish them to be, and circumstances vary from one country and culture to another, so being adaptable, seeing what works well, and what is a good starting point is a practical strategy.


In a great many cases, where mistreatment may be caused by simple ignorance, a few straightforward instructions, guidelines, and setting a good example of kindness and caring, can go along way towards improving the care of animals.


Congratulations to ESAF for this tremendously positive approach – which introduces pet shop staff and management to the concept that animals deserve excellent care.


As the ESAF team visits every pet shop in Giza, they will be putting together a database, to serve as a basis for future plans and long-term efforts to improve the lot of pets in Giza.


Photo:  Courtesy of ESAF / This, of course, is not a pet, but a working horse.  One of the ESAF vets is feeding carrots to a horse that is part of the ESAF Pyramids Project.


To visit the Facebook page of ESAF, click here.