China, Vietnam, Korea, with products sold globally – the worst of the worst: confining Asian moon bears up to 20 years in tiny cold steel cages smaller than phone booths, too small to stand up or turn around in, and painful daily ‘milking’ of their bile ducts. Almost too horrid to contemplate, this is probably the most disgraceful, unacceptable and cruel form of animal abuse I know of.
Unfortunately it is increasing, and bear bile products are still sold throughout the world, including illegally in the United States, where it can be found in Asian herbal shops.
Who’s fighting it: AAF (Animals Asia Foundation), Free the Bears Fund, Moonbears.org, WSPA, WildAid, WLPA (World League for Protection of Animals).
Bear farming is a brutal form of animal abuse. There is nothing natural
or humane about it. To harvest the bile from the gallbladder a connection
must be made from the gallbladder, which is deep inside the body, to the
This connection (medically called fistula) is made in one of three ways: a metal tube is inserted, a plastic tube is inserted, or a tissue bridge (a leak, in essence) is created between the gallbladder and the skin.
The operation to make these connection is usually performed by the farm owners who have no veterinary skill. The bile farmers themselves admit that half the bears die from complications.
After the bile fistula is established, the animal must be confined in a cage, often hardly bigger than their body, in an effort to keep the fistula open and control the animal. This lasts the entire miserable life of the animal. To obtain bile from the fistula some animals wear a “metal jacket” around their bodies with a collection container attached. Others bears are forced to lay on the floor of their small “crush cage” so the bile will drip downward. A bear is a powerful healer; its body will try to exclude a metal or plastic tube (just like our bodies try to force out a splinter) or close the tissue bridge. This leads to scarring and damage to both the outside and inside of the bear. In some, hot pieces of metal are inserted to keep the hole open. This is done without any form of anesthesia or sedation. In essence, the life of a farmed bear is hell. It is pain, agony, confinement. Physical and mental torture. A life of fear and suffering.
These bears often go insane (just as humans would) from their confinement and suffer from a variety of disfiguring injuries related to lack of movement and the operations they undergo. Some other things about these bears: Many die during or soon after the fistula operation. Most are malnourished and small. Many are missing a limb, the result of the wire snare used to trap them from the wild. They do not have continuous access to water. Many are hairless. They often have their teeth and claws removed to make them easier to handle. These bears have a high rate of liver cancers, the result of chronic infection and inflammation of the gall bladder and liver.
Recent developments show that approximately 9,000 bears are kept for bear bile farming. The Chinese government has steadfastly refused to bow to public and international pressure to stop this horrendous cruelty and close these farms. In fact, as reported, bears now number 9,000 from 7,002 last year in Bile Farms across China. This is half the bear population of the entire country of China. These endangered bears are going to soon be extinct because of this shameful practice. This inexcusable, unforgivably cruel practice is a national shame upon China, and the entire world shares the collective guilt of allowing it to continue.
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