A moon bear inside a cage at a bear bile farm. - Reuters Photo.

HANOI: Fourteen Asiatic black bears have been rescued from a bear bile farm in Vietnam after their owner decided to renounce the illegal trade, an animal protection group said Tuesday.

The animals, known as moon bears after the distinctive yellow crescent moon-shaped mark on their chests, were given to Animals Asia by bear farm owner Nguyen Ngoc Tien, the group said in a Tuesday statement.

“(Tien) had the opportunity to sell the bears to others but for reasons of conscience decided to give them to Animals Asia,” said Tuan Bendixsen, Animals Asia's Vietnam director.

“We want to see an end to bear farming across Vietnam so no more bears have to suffer,” he said, adding that it was the first time a Vietnamese bear farm had given up a significant number of animals without compensation.

Bear farming is banned in Vietnam but people are permitted to keep the animals in small cages as pets.

The 14 bears that were rescued show significant health problems including missing and maimed limbs, indicating they may have been trapped in the wild.

They have been taken to a sanctuary in northern Tam Dao district for care and treatment, Animals Asia said.

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