The cruel practice of tapping and mutilating caged bears for the bile from their gall bladders will soon come to an end in Vietnam. Trade in bear bile, a component of traditional medicine, is illegal in the country but a legal loophole allowed for its continued production. An agreement signed this week between Animals Asia and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry will close that loophole and ensure that the approximately 1,000 bears currently in private hands will move to sanctuaries. This doesn’t completely end the practice; a 2011 report from TRAFFIC found bear bile production and sales in 12 Asian countries.

John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.