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Bears Rescued After Being Kept In The Dark For 17 Years In Vietnamese 'Bile Farm'

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Bears Rescued After Being Kept In The Dark For 17 Years In Vietnamese 'Bile Farm'

Two bears have been rescued after spending around 17 years caged in a basement without natural light, only ever seeing artificial light when painful procedures were performed on them to extract their bile.

The two Asiatic black bears, a male called Xuan and a female called Mo, were found at an illegal 'bile farm' in Vietnam, where it is thought they'd been living for approaching two decades.

Bear bile is prized in Asian traditional medicine, which is why the bears were kept.

In years gone by, hunters would extract the bile after killing a bear, but others have been kept alive and had their bile extracted through painful and invasive means.

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Credit: Four Paws
Credit: Four Paws

Xuan is thought to have been in the basement beneath a clothes shop since 2004 when he was just a cub, but it isn't known how long Mo has been with him down there.

They were discovered in Son La, Vietnam, by animal welfare charity Four Paws, and they were absolutely disgusted by the conditions that the bears were being held in.

The conditions - described as some of the worst they've seen - saw the bears kept in total darkness in rusty and dirty cages with no access to fresh air barring the little amount of ventilation down in the basement.

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They had no stimulation, no light, and were fed only on rotten fruit to barely keep them alive.

Credit: Four Paws
Credit: Four Paws

Upon their rescue, both bears were sedated and medically examined before being taken to a sanctuary for other bears that have been rescued from bile farms.

Both have gallbladder disease as a result of the horrific probing required to extract their bile, and Xuan is underweight and has liver disease, as well as having lost several teeth, probably from gnawing at the bars of his cage in a vain attempt to escape.

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The vet that examined both, Szilvia Kalogeropoulu, said that both are looking at a long way back to health.

However, they'll be in the right place for it.

Credit: Four Paws
Credit: Four Paws

The sanctuary already houses 40 bears that have been rescued from the bile trade - which is legal in China but was outlawed in Vietnam in 1992 - and is also a wildlife awareness and education centre.

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Bear bile does contain ursodeoxycholic acid, which has some proven effects on gallstones and liver disease, but a synthetic version has been available for decades.

Despite that, the demand for the real thing still exists, and 10,000 bears are thought to be captive within the trade in China, with a further 1,000 held illegally in Vietnam.

Featured Image Credit: Four Paws

Topics: World News, Asia, Animals

Tom Wood
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