Vietnam halts planned eviction of center for bearsBy AP News Jan 16, 2013 4:00PM UTC
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has halted a planned eviction of a rescue center for bears after critics accused an official of forcing the eviction for his family’s financial benefit.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in a statement on the government’s website late Tuesday that the center can stay, and the official will be “severely dealt with” if violations are discovered.
The $2 million center sits inside a national park and was founded in 2005 by the Hong Kong-based nonprofit Animals Asia Foundation. The facility, 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of the capital Hanoi, is home to 104 bears rescued from Asia’s bear bile trade. Bear bile is commonly used in traditional medicines.
In July, the military ordered the center to relocate citing vague national security concerns. Park director Do Dinh Tien’s daughter has a stake in an ecotourism project proposed for the park, but Tien denies he planned to evict the bears.
In November, 10 conservation groups, several foreign embassies and U.S. politicians wrote to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urging him to not close the center.