6 Bears Rescued from Bile Farm

Animals Asia received six bears last week after the Sichuan Forestry Department removed them from an illegal farm in China where their bile was being harvested.

The bears were reportedly in rough shape and understandably grumpy when they were taken in by their rescuers. Some had facial injuries from banging their heads on the bars of their cages, another was starving with bile leakage, while yet another will require major abdominal surgery.

“If you’ve seen the paws of the bears it’s obvious they haven’t stood on solid ground for years,” said Jill Robinson, CEO and Founder of Animals Asia.

Fortunately for these six bears, they will be treated for injuries and illnesses and have a chance to live free from the tiny cages that had confined them, but their rescue has once again brought to light the suffering of bears who are still being kept on bile farms and regularly “milked” with catheters or by a technique known as “free-dripping,” which involves creating an open hole in their abdomens through which bile drips out.

“The bears’ gall bladders are severely damaged from being repeatedly jabbed every few weeks and the process also leads to the dangerous leakage of bile into the body. In some cases, the result of this leakage is a slow, agonizing death from peritonitis. The wounds from the unsterilized needles cause massive and painful abscesses and the bears suffer severe joint and muscle ailments from their inability to move freely. Their physical pain is compounded with the mental stress that this horrific situation causes and many bears end up psychologically damaged,” said Robinson.

Many of the bears used in bile farming are Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears because of the crescent-shaped marking on their chests, who are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Under the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the commercial export of bear parts is illegal, including gall bladders and bile.

The bears produce bile with high concentrations of Ursodeoxycholic Acid (UDCA), which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. However, UDCA can be synthetically produced without the use of animals and there are more than 50 herbal alternatives available that are affordable and effective.

Unfortunately, proponents of this insidious industry continue to insist that it’s humane.

“The process of extracting bear bile was as easy, natural and painless as turning on a tap,” said Fang Shuting, head of China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine at a press conference in February.

Animal advocates disagree and scientific evidence proves otherwise.

“When they say they have better, more humane ways of extracting the bile, it’s rubbish. You can’t surgically extract the bile and say it’s humane – it’s offensive,” said Robinson.

Fortunately, public awareness of the plight of bears on bile farms is growing. In the past decade a number of farms have been shut down and this rescue saw the 285th bear saved and released to Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Sichuan.

“In Vietnam it’s illegal and the number of bears has reduced from 4,000 to 2,400. Today in China there are a minimum of 10,000 in bear bile farms. The positive thing in China is the rise in public outrage about bear-bile farming. At one stage it was the second-most searched term after Jeremy Lin,” Robinson told the Irish Times.


Related Stories:

Moon Bears: Life in a Coffin

Bear Bile Industry Shrinking in South Korea

Saving Bears from the Cruelty of Bile Farming


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Briony Coote
Briony C3 years ago

There's been some really great news on the bile bear front lately. Animals Asia is now rescuing an entire bile bear farm and turning it into a sanctuary for the bears. It is all due to the farmer's daughter, who managed to convince her father that bile bear farming was wrong! And recently there was another bile bear farmer in Korea who had a change of heart and surrendered his last bear, Ti Map (translates as Chubby Mouse, would you believe!), to a sanctuary.

Briony Coote
Briony C3 years ago

I wonder if Fang Shuting, who claims the bear bile procedure is painless and just like turning on a tap, has actually been to a bear bile farm or watched a video of one? But really, Shuting sounds just like the tobacco industry and its claims that smoking is not a health hazard. He probably has some equally bizarre counterclaim to the argument that bear bile is dangerous because it is contaminated by unsanitary conditions, and pus and other infections from the bears. And what comment does he have about the alternatives to the bear bile?

carole Fraser
carole Fr,aser3 years ago

I have just watched the Video on the bear farms and the rescue I must say I was reduced to tears these people who have rescued and cared for the animals along the way and in the Shelter are very caring people they deserve a medal WELL DONE to all the staff at the centre and keep fighting to free the poor soles that are held in captivity suffering at the hands of people who are committing these cruel acts.

carole Fraser
carole Fr,aser3 years ago

Shocking acts of sheer cruelty in these Bear farms when will this wicked acts ever end in China cruelty to animals is on a large scale but I am so happy for Bears who have been rescued KEEP FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE FOR ANIMALS WORLDWIDE.

Deborah W.
Deborah W3 years ago

Even with Animals Asia outreach efforts and the fact that the practice is already illegal in Viet Name, there is still China with it's MINIMUM of 10,000 bile farms producing ... and their mindset, quoted by Fang Shuting that "it's as easy, natural and painless as turning on a tap". Wonder when he, in person, took the time to observe this process.

Read somewhere that one of the mom bears killed her own new cubs rather than subjecting them to the same fate she was experiencing, and then killed herself as well. Now I ask you, who's the dumb species here?

My hope is that awareness, which is beginning to change minds, is such that public outcry reaches fever pitch and can no longer be denied ... AND that those involved reap the full return of their efforts, including all the infections and fatalities that are passed along via unsterile extractions through pus-filled abcess.

Grace K.
Grace Kennedy3 years ago

Thank you to the rescuers...it's never too late to save a live from misery

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

More should be rescued

PrimaAWAY B.
PrimaAWAY B4 years ago

I have read this story a few times and it makes me very happy they were rescued. They are 6 lucky bears. So many more left....

Grateful again to those who rescued these 6 bears.

Suju Bala
Suju B4 years ago

am very happy to know that these bears are rescued.. thank you.

Nickihermes Celine
Past Member 4 years ago

thank you for sharing 6/7