The Straits Times
Published on Nov 19, 2012

Pandas aren't the only endangered bears


IT IS good that wildlife photographer Bjorn Oleson and former group chief executive of Wildlife Reserves Singapore Fanny Lai have produced a book on pandas that focuses on their conservation in the wild, rather than in captivity ("Up close and personal with pandas"; Nov 11).

But how about other bears? Do they not deserve the same treatment?

Take, for example, the Asian moon bears. Thousands are kept in brutal conditions on bear farms in China and Vietnam, and are milked for their bile to supply the traditional Chinese medicine industry. Many have their paws hacked off for bear paw soup.

It seems there is little sympathy for them. Why are they not deserving of the same admiration and kindness accorded to pandas?

One organisation that is relentlessly fighting for the welfare of other bears is Animals Asia, which is facing an eviction order in Vietnam, potentially affecting more than 100 bears saved from bear farms.

With renewed dialogue on stricter penalties for animal abuse in Singapore ("Animal abuse: Panel calls for tougher penalties"; Nov 11), we are surely on the right path. Other Asian nations would do well to take note.

Mika Sampovaara