Animal advocates in China are celebrating a victory for moon bears after a bear bile manufacturer pulled its controversial application for a public offering following public outcry.
Bear farming was started as a way to collect bile from bears’ gall bladders, which is used in traditional Asian medicine, and was considered as a way to protect the number of critically endangered moon bears in the wild through captive breeding. But as awareness of the industry grows, more people are coming to oppose confining bears to cages that resemble coffins and relentlessly “milking” them for their bile through catheters or open holes in their abdomens.
The company in question, Fujian Guizhentang Pharmaceutical, initially planned an IPO last February to raise funds and, according to the AP, its website had lofty goals of increasing its number of bears from 400 to 1,200 to become the ‘biggest bear site in the world.”
The China Securities Regulatory Commission listed the company’s application as withdrawn, but no one seems sure why they withdrew it.
Animals Asia, which has been campaigning to help save moon bears and operates sanctuaries in China and Vietnam, welcomed the news and believes public pressure had a big impact on the decision to withdraw. The organization’s Director of External Affairs in China Toby Zhang said in a statement:
This encouraging victory belongs to all those who have been saying no to cruelty. They have listened to their own conscience and have responded by continuing to campaign and working towards an end to bear bile farming.
We know there is no humane method to extract bile from bears, we also know the bear bile produced potentially threatens the health of its consumers. Bear bile products are promoted by producers who often overstate their worth while ignoring the welfare of consumers.
However, the organization notes that media reports indicate the company might come back to this in the future and it’s still working on plans for expanding through other means without an IPO, which include opening additional franchise stores.
Zhang told the AP that, as for the rest of the bears, the number of farms has dropped to less than 100, but those farms are breeding more and illegally taking bears from the wild. There are now estimated to be 10,000 bears in farms in China.
While bile has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years to cure a number of ailments, the active ingredient in bear bile, UDCA, can be synthetically created without the use of animals and there are believed to be more than 50 herbal alternatives.
Animals Asia has called for a three-to-five year plan to be implemented, that would end bear bile farming for good, that will start by making sure the current number of bears on farms doesn’t grow either through breeding or capturing wild bears, encouraging research into alternatives and increasing penalties for smugglers.
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