Bear attack in Vietnam leaves one person dead, another injured

A bear that had been caged for 20 years killed its owner and injured his servant in southern Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh city, police said Saturday.

Tran Hoang Loc, 75, was killed instantly when the bear _ one of two he kept to extract and sell their bile _ attacked him on Friday, said a police officer who identified himself only as Truong. Bear bile is used as traditional medicine in parts of Asia.

Loc's servant was injured when he tried to rescue his employer, Truong said.

The female bear lashed out at Loc and threw him to the ground when he opened the cage to feed the animals, Truong said, adding that soldiers had been sent in to shoot both bears.

Loc had raised the bears for 20 years for their bile, which is used in traditional medicine in Vietnam and China and said to cure many ailments. Bear bile farms are illegal in Vietnam, but the government rarely cracks down on them.

An estimated 2,300 to 2,400 bears are held captive for bile in Vietnam. Animal rights activists say the bile is extracted using cruel methods, and have urged the government to end the practice.

Earlier this year, the government began to tag captive bears with microchips and require owners to register with local authorities as part of plans to phase out bear farming.

The registration and microchipping are also aimed at helping officials monitor captive bears' welfare and prevent the capture of wild animals.

Bear owners will be allowed to keep their animals until they die, but must report dead or missing bears to government regulatory bodies, officials have said, AP reported.

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