A pair of Asiatic black bear cubs that were taken by poachers have been rescued from wildlife smugglers in Hai Phong province in Vietnam.

Two female black bear cubs were confiscated by Vietnamese authorities on January 9. Local police worked with an Austria-based non-government group called Four Paws, plus Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand and the Education for Nature-Vietnam to save the animals.

The following day the cubs were taken to a Four Paws bear sanctuary in the city of Ninh Binh.

Emily Lloyd, the Animal Manager in Vietnam for Four Paws, said the two small cubs were dehydrated and critical when they arrived at the sanctuary, so volunteers were trying to keep them from being malnourished by feeding them milk with vitamins and probiotics.

Vietnam, Hai Phong province | 2019 01 10 | 2 bear cubs rescued by FOUR PAWS in Hai Phong province.

The bear cubs were safe but reportedly in a dehydrated condition, a spokesperson said. Photo: Four Paws, Mongabay.com

Currently, the authorities are trying to determine who the supposed buyer was or where the bears were due to be delivered.

Vietnam is famous for its “bear bile farms” where bile is extracted from living bears’ gall bladders for use by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to treat liver problems and cancer.

The practice was condemned as cruel and banned by the government in 2005 after increasing international exposure about the dire circumstances that the captive bears endure.

However, wildlife groups say there are still around 1,000 bears held in grim conditions in bile farms throughout Vietnam.