Once we arrived, I was greatly surprised to find that this was a brand new facility that Animals Asia Foundation had set up to continue their work in Vietnam which I faintly remembered reading about in one of their newsletters but had not put 2 + 2 together that it was the same place. What a wonderful coincidence that it was located right in the very national park that I was visiting!
The facility was extremely impressive and contained quarantine enclosures, a vet surgery and bear houses. Once completed it will be able to house a total of 200 bears. It also plans to use it as a base to raise public awareness about the barbaric practice of bear farming. They even have planted a beautiful herb garden to promote the numerous heal alternatives to bear bile. The staff were very friendly and professional and one of the Bear Managers, Bec, did a fantastic job of showing us around and explaining how it all worked.
Donning gumboots which had to be disinfected as they were sick bears in the surgery, we were lucky enough to see 2 cubs aged about 6 months who had just been rescued from the boot of a car crossing the Laos/Vietnam border. They were absolutely adorable, playing and tumbling over each other - clearly very happy and unaware of what could have been a very horrible fate.
The aim of Animals Asia Foundation is to end bear farming entirely in Vietnam. According to official figures in Vietnam there are currently 4,000 bears incarcerated in tiny cages for bile extraction, the physical and mental suffering that they endure is extreme - and the mortality rate is high.
Check out their website for more info: http://www.animalsasia.org/