World Animal Protection (WAP) Ambassador, Thai singer and actor Tono Pakin Kumwilaisuk (second row, third from left) pose for a photo at a bear protection exhibition in Hanoi on June 30. (Photo: ENV)

Hanoi (VNA) – A bear protection exhibition was kicked off in Hanoi on June 30, in the presence of the World Animal Protection (WAP) Ambassador - Thai singer and actor Tono Pakin Kumwilaisuk, to raise public awareness of the importance of bear protection.

The event was held by the Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and the WAP, featuring a number of activities, including displays of photos and information of bears in Vietnam, signing of commitments to protect bears, and a space for kids to colour pictures about bears and other wildlife animals.

According to ENV deputy director Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, the WAP Ambassador will accompany bear protection and awareness-raising activities organised by the WAP and ENV to end bear farming in Vietnam.

The Thai singer visited some bear farms in Phuc Tho district on the outskirts of Hanoi and held a talk with Forest Protection Department of Hai Phong city on the same efforts, she said.

Speaking at the event, Tono said it is pitiable for bears, a wild animal, to live in captivity. Vetnam has a large number of bears kept in farms; some of these farms are clean but some are dirty and not quite airy and spacious, he added.

He urged stronger joint efforts to end this situation and stricter penalties for violations of bear protection rules.

The number of bears in captivity in Vietnam has decreased dramatically from more than 4,300 in 2005 to 851 as of April 2018. To date, 22 localities have eliminated bear captivity.

Since the beginning of 2018, the last captive bears in Can Tho and Ninh Binh have been voluntarily transferred to animal rescue centres for better care, Dung noted.

Together with many actions taken by localities nationwide, it is a positive sign for the ending of bear farming in Vietnam in a near future, she added.

Tono Pakin Kumwilaisuk, who is best known for being among the eight finalists that competed in The Star, season 6, a singing contest broadcast live on Thai television. The 1986 born star has also been honoured with a range of awards, such as the 26th TV Gold Awards as Best Leading Actor (2012) and the OK Awards (2015).

Tono became a WAP Ambassador in 2013 and has been involved in various activities and projects run by the international organisation to improve animal welfare in Thailand since then. He is very active on social media with more than 2.2 million followers, which allows him to disseminate messages on animal protection.-VNA