Hanoi Circus Turns Over Last Four Show Bears to Animal Sanctuary in Sign of Changing Attitudes

The career in the limelight is over for a quartet of performing bears after a Vietnam circus agreed to hand them over to a sanctuary.

Animals Asia had already campaigned for the release of two show bears, Sugar and Spice, named for their fiery personalities, and now the last 4 “moon bears” (Asiatic black bears) from the same circus named, Ginger, Chili, Pepper, and Saffron, have arrived at their sanctuary to reunite the “Spice Girls” in a holistic, wild environment where they can return to their natural state.

It’s being described as a change in attitudes in Vietnam, where animal rights aren’t typically prevalent. The Spice Girls were all voluntarily turned over as the circus admits it is unethical to continue using bears for performance.

The bears arrived at the organization’s sanctuary in Tam Dao on Tuesday, June 15th. On their arrival, an expert team of vets and bear experts greeted them and did their preliminary health checks.

“For the first time in years, these four beautiful bears will have access to wide, open spaces and feel lush, fresh grass beneath their paws,” said Heidi Quine, Bear and Vet Team Director at the Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary. “They will be able to express natural behaviors like climbing, foraging for food, digging in the dirt, and playing with their new friends.”

Animals Asia has been lobbying for the end of performing animals in zoos and circuses in Vietnam since 2014. Their campaign informed a decision from the Ministry of Culture that instructed circuses on ending the use of animals in performances. 15 of which have already done so, while many more are phasing them out, swelling the numbers of bears in the sanctuary to 186.

“This is a direct result of our tenacious yet collaborative approach to working with authorities and communities,” said Tuan Bendixsen, Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director. “As we have seen time and time again, the only cure for so many of the things we want to change in the world, is kindness.”