From a tiny backyard cage to freedom

Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS have successfully rescued a young Asiatic black bear from illegal private keeping in the Son La province of Vietnam 


After Soi’s former owner agreed to hand the bear over to the authorities, they asked FOUR PAWS to take him into its care.

A FOUR PAWS team travelled to Son La province to collect Soi, where they had to cut open the tiny cage he was kept in, before transporting him safely to FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Here he will finally live a bear-appropriate life amongst other rescued bears for the remainder of his life.

Son la province was already declared free of bear farms in 2021 but occasionally bears like Soi are discovered that are not registered with the authorities and kept illegally.

With Soi’s former owner stating he was 17 years old; the FOUR PAWS team were surprised to discover during his first health check, that Soi is only around two and a half years old. It is likely his previous owner will have made this false claim out of fear of legal repercussions, with Soi likely purchased illegally as a pet.

This first health check revealed that Soi’s health condition is good compared to other bears rescued from bear farms and thankfully did not show signs that Soi was abused for bile extraction. A comprehensive veterinary examination at the sanctuary will further determine his health status and future needs.

“The whole rescue went very smoothly. Soi is lean and generally in good condition, except for some dental issues. He has one fractured canine with a fistula and signs of bar biting. We will investigate suspected cardiac abnormalities in his health check next week at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh.” 

Mark Gölkel, Veterinarian and Animal and Facility Management Lead

There are still some 257 bears existing on bear farms in Vietnam. Over half of these bears are kept in Hanoi, which remains inactive in closing bear farms, unlike the majority of the other provinces. FOUR PAWS are urging the Hanoi authorities to start combating bear crime in their jurisdiction and finally end bear farming. So far over 200,000 people have signed the petition calling on Hanoi government to take urgent action.

“Bears still kept on bear farms in Vietnam suffer from cruel keeping conditions, locked up in metal cages with barely any room to turn around, and lined up in dark sheds without any sunlight. Here they’ll endure bile extraction, which, despite being illegal, is still practised, and extremely painful.


Bears need to roam around, climb, dig, and swim and should have the freedom to express their natural behaviours. The remaining bears in Vietnam still have a chance at a better life. But, if Hanoi keeps undermining the country’s commendable progress, their future looks grim.”

Emily Wilson Head of Campaigns, FOUR PAWS UK 

Recent studies show that bear bile consumers in Vietnam are willing to switch to non-animal-based products for the treatment of ailments, including herbal alternatives and Western medicine. So, it’s time for Hanoi to catch up and end bear farming for good.

Head of Communications UK: Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker

Head of Communications UK

020 7922 7954

07966 032 235

7 - 14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR


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