Moon Bears: Life in a Coffin

Thousands of Asiatic black bears, known as moon bears because of the white crescent markings on their chests, are confined to suffer on bear farms, some trapped in cages no larger than a telephone booth for their entire lives.

Bear farming was started as a way to collect bile from the bears’ gall bladder, which is used in traditional Asian medicine, and was considered as a way to protect the number of moon bears in the wild through captive breeding. However, bears are still showing up with injuries indicative of being illegally trapped in the wild. Some bears also have their teeth cut back or their claws removed to make them easier to handle.

Bile extraction may be performed by permanently implanting a catheter in a bear’s abdomen or by the newer “free dripping” technique.

The “free-dripping” technique is now the only permitted method of bile extraction. This method involves surgery to create an open hole or fistula in the abdomen through which bile drips out. While this is promoted as “humane” and appears more aesthetically pleasing than a metal catheter implant, Animals Asia’s investigations and veterinary assessments show that this technique is as inhumane, if not more so, than the older methods and causes a high mortality rate on the farms.

Unfortunately, bear farming is legal and requires owners to be licensed by the government. The World Society for the Protection of Animals estimates that approximately 12,000 bears are currently suffering on bear farms around Asia, with an estimated 16,000 left in the wild and are considered an endangered species.

Under the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the commercial export of bear parts is illegal, including gall bladders and bile. Wildlife DNA Services has created a protein detection kit that is being tried in Canada and Australia by customs and wildlife officials.

The active ingredient in bear bile, UDCA, can be synthetically created without the use of animals. Additionally, a report by the Chinese Association of Medicine and Philosophy and EarthCare has established that there are at least 54 herbal alternatives to bear bile, including Chinese ivy stem, dandelion, chrysanthemum, common sage and rhubarb. The alternatives are both cheap and effective, according to Animals Asia.

Since October 2000, over 40 bear farms have been closed down by the Government and over 245 bears released into the care of Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Sichuan. The World Society for the Protection of Animals is working on a similar campaign to encourage Asian governments, practitioners and consumers to promote alternatives to bear bile.

The compassion with which we’ve been given as humans, the only creature on earth who is able to help other life, includes the knowledge that healing does not come at the injury of another life. It includes the concept of respect for the living conditions of others.

You can help by:

Writing a letter to Chinese officials

Downloading a petition

Signing Care2 member Jacqueline Wall’s petition to stop bear farming

For more information on moon bears and how to help, visit Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue campaign and the WSPA

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W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

William C
William Cabout a year ago


Nickihermes Celine
Past Member 4 years ago

a real disgrace,thank you for sharing 6/7

Lorraine Andersen

What a cruelty to these poor animals!! Stop the torture. Time to abolish bile milking and have stiff penalties for those caught doing it.

Lori Ann Hone
Lori Hone5 years ago

Disgusting and completely uncivilized these Asian countries and their people are. They continue to live by their superstitions, totally unsupported by any scientific evidence. How can these people expect the rest of the world to consider them modern and civilized.

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 5 years ago

Just disgusting knowing these bears and their fate. Asia,especially China is a country made up of SUB-HUMANS. So angry knowing we can only do so much for these special beautifull bears. PLEASE DO NOT BUY ANY CHINESE PRODUCTS.

katarzyna phillips

the fact that there are safer and more humane ways of getting this substance is fuel enough to stop such a barbaric activity. karms will eventually catch up with these perpetrators

Michelle Alexander
Michelle A5 years ago

Despicable industry. How the people involved in this sleep at night baffles me. Bile milking must be stopped and banned and these innocent creatures released.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago


Doug Marchel
Gina M6 years ago

OK, this is to the "1%" sick bastard who voted "no": Your are not worth living on this earth!! I wish you misery, and all that is evil and hateful, to come your way every day of your life!!!!!!