Animals Asia Foundation rescued thirteen black bears from government-approved stomach bile farms in southwest China today.
The bears had holes punched in their stomachs to allow bile to drip out for traditional Chinense medicinal use. The bears were found in poor condition suffering with anything from blindness to cancers.
Bear bile farms, however, are typically legal in China.
The foundation said these particular farms were violating regulations by mistreating the bears. They have been cited for keeping the bears in cages not large enough to allow adequate movement. One of the thirteen bears was in such poor condition that it had to be euthanized.
“Most of the bears that arrived today had scars and wounds on their heads as a result of repetitive bar-rubbing during their years on the farm. In short, they are cage-crazy,” said Asian Animals founder Jill Robinson.
And these bears are the lucky ones: they only had the “approved” hole-in-the-side drip method, without any tubes or catheters inserted into their stomachs. Animals Asia thinks other bears on farms aren’t so lucky.
While cultural sensitivity is important, how on earth can anyone believe that harvesting the stomach bile from a live animal is humane? How is the size of the cage determined to be the only problem here?
China legalized the bile farms in the ’80s. The Chinese government claims that 7,000 bears are kept in 247 farms, but the foundation that rescued the bears estimates the number to be closer to 10,000. In 2000, China agreed to allow Animals Asia to recover sick bears from the farms.
Since the program began, the group has helped 260 bears, but 77 did not survive the rehabilitation process.
Photo Credit: LUNA-drops on WikiMedia Commons