GREEN groups are sceptical about a scheme to release two Hong Kong bears into the wilds of Thailand. The two Asiatic Black Bears, which flew out of Hong Kong to Bangkok yesterday, were seized by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department in 1993. One, a nine-year-old, 180-kilogram female called K. K., was owned by Giordano and Next magazine boss Jimmy Lai Chee-ying. K. K. was confiscated on July 5, 1993. The other - Mui Mui, a four-year-old female, was found six days later in a cage near Yuen Long. The bears have been sent to the Kabok Koo Wildlife Breeding Centre near Bangkok to undergo a rehabilitation programme which will teach them how to survive in the wild. If it is successful, they will be released. 'This type of programme is rarely successful and it is not the type of thing our organisation encourages,' Jo Ruxton of the World Wide Fund for Nature, said. 'These animals have spent their whole lives in cages and they have no foraging or hunting skills.' The 100-kilogram Mui Mui and K. K. have been living at the government kennels in Sheung Shui for the past two years. 'One concern is that if the release programme is not done carefully and properly the bears will starve to death,' said David Dugeon, reader and head of the Department of Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong. 'But it has to be asked what will be achieved if they are kept in cages the rest of their lives. 'Their survival will depend on the expertise of the people working at the centre.' Asiatic Black Bears are highly endangered and are legally protected in Hong Kong. They range from Afghanistan to China and spread as far south as northern Thailand, but are not native to Hong Kong. Mr Lai, who had kept K. K. in a cage in his back yard for eight years, was fined $5,000.