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Listen to an interview with WSPA's bear expert!
Listen to an interview with WSPA's bear expert! Listen as renowned international bear expert and WSPA Wildlife Advisor Victor Watkins discusses his unique and exciting work rescuing bears around the world. Watkins discussed his and WSPA's work to rescue bears from cruelty and exploitation, as well as the welfare needs still facing bears today. Watkins also talked about WSPA's continuing work to bring an end to some of the cruelest practices on earth including bear baiting, bear farming, and the exploitation of captive bears for entertainment purposes. This is a great chance for supporters who are unable to attend Watkins' United States speaking tour to hear our bear expert live!

Universal Declaration campaign launched in US
We are seeking a total of 10 million signatures on the "Animals Matter to Me" petition, making it the most ambitious global initiative on animal welfare that has ever been attempted. This petition urges the United Nations to adopt a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare similar to earlier initiatives on human rights and the environment. Billions of animals around the world are affected by humans, and rely on people to treat them with compassion. But sadly, in many countries there is little national and no international protection for animals. Reaching the goal of 10 million signatures worldwide will raise public and government awareness about animals and the importance of considering their welfare.

Find out the latest on welfare issues facing bears around the world
Victor Watkins, WSPA Wildlife Advisor, is heading to the Republic of Georgia to attend the 2010 International Bear Association (IBA) conference and will be reporting back on the big issues faced by the world’s bears in a dedicated blog. The IBA conference provides bear experts (organizations and academics) with a platform to share their knowledge of issues facing bears around the world, to encourage best practice and deliver solutions. Victor is extremely passionate about protecting bears from cruelty and suffering and has been a pivotal character in WSPA's work for bears around the world for nearly two decades.

Balkasar open for bears: Pakistan’s new WSPA-funded bear sanctuary
The sanctuary will also provide a refuge for the remaining 60-70 Asian black bears in Pakistan who are still being used in bear baiting, a cruel and illegal blood sport. Balkasar Sanctuary sits away from flood plains and close to the country’s capital, Islamabad. Its opening demonstrates the dedication and commitment of the BRC and Kund Park staff who - despite losing their homes and possessions, like so many Pakistanis - have remained committed to the cause. Many of the staff members and their families have even moved to Balkasar to rebuild their lives, as well as the lives of the bears in their care. Those bears will be brought to the Balkasar Sanctuary to live out their lives in a natural and peaceful environment.

WSPA moves new resident to bear sanctuary
The villagers who discovered the bear could trace no signs of its mother and they captured it with a view to sell it in the local market. Maylu was handed to local wildlife officials by the army, and the wildlife department did their best to care for the distressed bear. Talks began at the wildlife department of moving Maylu to a zoo – at this point WSPA heard about Maylu and quickly set the wheels in motion to receive the bear into the renowned Kund Park Bear Sanctuary. Following examination by WSPA veterinary staff the wildlife officials released the bear into WSPA custody and plans were laid to move the bear to Kund Park near the Peshawar region of Pakistan.

More good news for Vietnam's bears
After lengthy consultation with WSPA, the Vietnamese Government has introduced improved legislation for the protection and management of captive bears in Vietnam. This is a great sign that the government is sticking to its commitment to phase out bear bile farms in Vietnam and ensure that no more bears are introduced into this cruel industry. In a landmark agreement last year, the government of Vietnam signed a Memorandum of Understanding with WSPA and began to gradually phase out bear bile farming in their country. The new regulations aim to further protect Vietnam‘s national bear population from rampant hunting for their galls and other organs.

Local networking saves bears from cruel contest
WSPA member society the Bioresource Research Centre Pakistan (PBRC) prevented a bear baiting event in February 2008, saving two bears from multiple violent attacks by powerful dogs. WSPA and PBRC’s local networking program enabled them to enlist support against the powerful landlords who arranged the event. Landlords stand to make large profits from bets placed on the bloody contests, despite this cruelty being illegal in Pakistan and contrary to religious teachings. The landlords own only the dogs used in baiting events, so Saad appealed directly to the bear owners. The two bears which seemed destined to suffer ripped muzzles and multiple wounds are now settling into a new life the Kund Park Bear Sanctuary.

Crime doesn’t pay: wildlife hotline targets bear bile
Tapping into public determination to stop the bear bile trade, tip offs have led to bears being removed from bear farms. The public can help prevent this by reporting any advertising they see for bear bile products to the hotline. The Vietnamese government is committed to ending the bear bile trade, and advertising bear products – used in traditional medicines and cosmetics – is now illegal. Tip offs to the hotline have even helped the authorities find and confiscate bears that have been used for bile after the 2005 country-wide ban on new bears being brought into farms. Alongside our member societies, WSPA is working with the authorities to offer expert advice and ensure that this important animal welfare goal is achieved.

WSPA launches new website to educate Traditional Asian Medicine users on bear farming
More than 12,000 endangered Asiatic black bears are cruelly confined in bear farms, facilities at which many are kept in tiny cages and their bile is regularly extracted and sold for use in Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM). WSPA has encouraged traditional medicine groups worldwide to support a statement agreeing that there are good herbal alternatives to bear bile - 71 traditional Asian medicine associations from eight countries have already expressed their support. The letters sent to retailers will include a link for retailers to learn more about bear farming and obtain a template letter (in English or Chinese) that they can use when contacting Chinese companies about their bear bile policies.

Sweden and New Zealand: leaders in animal welfare
Two governments, on different continents, have this week made the same significant decision: to recognize the global importance of animals and their well-being by lending support to a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare. Sweden and New Zealand join Fiji, Cambodia, and the Seychelles in giving full and official backing to a proposed set of principles which, if endorsed by the UN, will result in international recognition that animal welfare matters. In backing the principle that animals matter – for themselves, for the environment, for food security, and for human livelihoods and health – Sweden and New Zealand have shown that they are dedicated to stopping animal cruelty and protecting the world’s future. Wide governmental support will help convince the UN to endorse the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and highlight the importance of animals to the international community.

Bears escape cruel ‘dancing’ destiny
Four sloth bears, including a cub, were rescued from a life spent ‘dancing’ by authorities in Nepal last week, acting on information provided by WSPA member society the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The three adult bears had been trained to dance and were destined to be sold to Kalandars – nomadic bear owners – in India. This illegal cross-border wildlife trade in poached bears sells the animals into a lifetime of suffering, as they are forced into unnatural behaviors, become ill from poor diets, and often develop repetitive behaviors that indicate mental trauma. WTI and WSPA initiated the Integrated Sloth Bear Conservation and Welfare Project in 2005 to work towards the holistic conservation of sloth bears in India, by providing alternative livelihoods for Kalandars and ensuring that the bears do not endure a life of suffering.

Three surviving bears rescued from Pakistan floods
Residents of the villages surrounding the Kund Park sanctuary spotted these bears and alerted BRC staff to their presence. Despite the inaccessible roads and vague information on the location of the bears, staff from BRC bravely ventured into the flooded areas in search of these bears. Once they located the bears, they managed to tranquillize each bear and move it into a transport cage. Once sedated and in the transport cages, the bears – accompanied by a BRC veterinarian – were transported to Balkasar on trucks. The Balkasar sanctuary is still very much under construction, as it was designed to house bears that are yet to be rescued as part of WSPA and BRC’s continuing campaign against bear baiting.

WSPA urges Vietnam to stay on track to end bears suffering in bear farms
The fate of 80 illegally held and endangered Asiatic Black bears hangs in the balance as Vietnamese Authorities decide whether or not to remove them from cruel bear farms. In 2005 Vietnam announced their intention to phase out bear farming and introduced a law that stated any bears found without microchips in bear farms will be confiscated. Gosling added “An alarming new discovery has caused us even more concern as there seems to be a growing tourist industry around bear farming in the Quang Ninh province with tourists visiting the cruel farms to consume bear bile and meat and see demonstrations of the extraction process.

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