A female bear named Bac Ha (Mint) was rescued by the foundation on Thursday after being caged for 15 years at a private estate in Dong Nai.

Six other bears in Binh Duong were rescued Friday, Trang Bui, a spokesman for Four Paws Viet, said.

While Mint needed to be anesthetized to be escorted out of the cage in Dong Nai, the other six bears – Thia La, Thom, James, Ot, Mui and Hung were lured with honey to walk into their transport crates by the rescue team.

Mint’s ultrasound results showed inflammation in her gallbladder, possibly due to past bile extraction. Her skin, teeth and overall condition was relatively good.

Four Paw Viet veterinarians check Mints health conditions at the private farm in Dong Nai Province. Photo courtesy of Four Paws Viet

Four Paw Viet veterinarians check Mint’s health at a private farm in Dong Nai Province, September 19, 2019. Photo courtesy of Four Paws Viet.

The six bears from Binh Duong, kept captive for 17 years, were not as lucky. According to the organization’s veterinarians, they were all malnourished. Some suffered from keratinized skin on their feet, the others from hair loss, and eye and limb damages. One bear had lost his right front paw.

They were kept in cramped cages with minimal access to natural light.

Nguyen Ngoc Tien, the Binh Duong farm owner, has only voluntarily forfeited these six bears. There are still 12 bears left in his farm.

Four Paws Viet is still negotiating with him and hoping that the 12 will be released soon as well.

All seven bears are on their way to the organization’s sanctuary in the northern province of Ninh Binh, about 1,600km away, by car.

Every two to three hours, the rescue team, accompanied by two veterinarians will stop to check on and feed the bears. They bears are scheduled to arrive at the destination on Sunday.

The Ninh Binh bear conservation facility in Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh, with a total area of about 10 hectares, opened in 1999. It has enough room for 44 bears. The facility receives and cares for bears rescued from illegal wildlife trade or those donated by bear farmers.

According to a Four Paws Viet survey, there are still about 450 bears, mainly Asian black bears, living in critical condition in 150 private farms in Vietnam. The bears were mostly kept captive to extract their bile, which is used as medicine for several ailments in Vietnam and other countries in the region.

Vietnam banned commercial bear bile extraction in 2005, but farmers who owned bears prior to the ban are still allowed to keep them.