This week, government officials in Vietnam signed an agreement—the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)—to effectively end bear bile farming in the country. For 18 years, animal-rights organization Animals Asia has been working with Vietnam’s Deputy General Director of the Administration of Forestry Cao Chi Cong to end the cruel practice of extracting bile—a substance believed by some Eastern countries to have medicinal purposes—from captive bears. Bear-bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992, but a loophole in the legislation allowed for bears to be held in captivity, sometimes in private residences on behalf of the government, until now. “This agreement shows Vietnam acknowledges that bear bile farming harms wild populations,” Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said. “By signing on, they’ve shown they are serious about conserving the country’s remaining wild bears and protecting the heritage of future generations.” Animals Asia founder/CEO Jill Robinson plans to work with the Vietnamese government and non-governmental organizations to create sanctuaries for the country’s 1,000 bears that will now be free from the bear-bile industry.