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Vietnam bears need emergency rescue

Authorities in the north central province of Thanh Hoa have called for the emergency rescue of two moon bears currently in poor health at a local nature reserve, online newspaper VnExpress has reported.


On Wednesday, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development sought the local government's approval to quickly transfer the bears, one female and one male, from the Xuan Lien Nature Reserve to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Center in Vinh Phuc Province's Tam Dao National Park.


The two bears were taken to the reserve in May last year after being rescued from illegal captivity.


The female now weighs 70 kilograms and the male 64 kilograms.


According to the reserve authorities, the bears fell sick in early October due to bad weather and their inability to adapt to the new environment and unsuitable living conditions at the reserve.


The reserve recently invited doctors from the Vietnam Bear Rescue Center to examine the bears.


The doctors diagnosed the male with cataracts, hair loss and aleukemia.


The bears do not have any contagious diseases, they said.


According to Xuan Lien Nature Reserve authorities, its staff are not qualified to treat the bears for diseases.


But it is also unsafe to release the bears into the wild because they have lost their ability to fend for themselves as they have been kept in captivity for too long, they said.


There is a high risk that the bears may try to break loose to escape, they warned.


The Asian black bear, also known as the moon bear or white-chested bear, is a medium-sized species of bear, largely adapted for arboreal life.


It is classed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species, mostly due to deforestation and active hunting for its body parts.