The owner of a female moon bear that was born and raised in captivity by a household in southern Vietnam has voluntarily handed over the animal to authorities so that it can be rehabilitated and released into the wild.
The 20-year-old bear weighs nearly 200 kilograms, and has been raised by the family of Nguyen Thi Lan, a local in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai Province, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City, since an early age.
Lan has voluntarily given up the bear to the forest protection unit of Bien Hoa and the wildlife rescue center of Cat Tien National Park, authorities confirmed last week.
The bear will be raised in the center’s sanctuary for some time to prepare it for life in the natural habitat, before it is safe to release the animal into the wild.
It is among the first and very few moon bears in Vietnam to have been voluntarily given up by their owners after being raised in captivity for their bile.
Bear bile is sought after and sold at a high price in Vietnam due to the widely held belief that it possesses superior medicinal and nutritious properties.
According to statistics from World Animal Protection, the number of captive moon bears in Vietnam has dropped to under a thousand as of today, compared to over 3,000 during the 2005-06 period.
This is thanks to joint efforts by local authorities and international organizations to rescue the bears and raise public awareness of the issue.