Monday, August 1, 2011

Say "NO" to Bear Farming

Help end bear farming. Source

Bear bile farming is a shameful trade and you ought to know.

Bile is a bitter fluid produced by liver to aid digestion. Since ancient time, this extract from the gall bladder of bears has been used as a useful ingredient in the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Since the 1980s, bear farming was carried out in China to meet increasing demand. The scale grew out of control. Today, there are a few hundred such farms capturing tens of thousands of bears.

A bear farm in appalling conditions. Source: wspa

What is bear farming?

Bear farming involves caging bears in tiny spaces. This to restrict their movement to facilitate extraction of bile juice via a catheter. The captured bear would have a tube extending into its gall bladder for the rest of its life.

'The rest of its life' is sadly a short span of time. Between age five to ten, the bears stop producing bile. They are then put away to die of illness or killed for their paws and gall bladders.

Source: Animals Asia

During bile milking, the bears suffer such unimaginable physical pain and mental stress that they would normally exhibit disturbing behaviors. They were seen to be banging their heads against the cages, gnawing on the cage bars and chewing their own paws. Most of them suffer from skin sores and malnutrition.

The process of bile extraction is crude. A rubber tube is surgically inserted into the gall bladder. It is placed to run under the skin up to the thigh where the bile juice is collected. The surgery is done by untrained farmers. The bears would suffer during the procedure and there have been many incidents of death due to complications.

Here are more picture on bear farming.

Bear bile products. Source: Bush Warriors

Why go after bear bile?

The value of bear bile comes from a chemical known as ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). It is used by TCM practitioners who believe that it has properties that help to reduce fever and protect the liver, among other things.

Nothing is of any commercial value unless it is sought after. Bear products are widely banned but they were reported to be readily available in the U.S. (91%), Malaysia (78%), Japan (77%), and Singapore (74%), closely followed by Canada (67%), Indonesia (62%), Australia (49%) and Taiwan (30%).

Bear products stay in demand because people continue to believe in its benefits. Few were aware that in modern chemistry, cheaper and equally effective alternative medicines are available. Most importantly, many are clueless about the horrendous cruelty that went into the products.

Bile milking. Source: Bush Warriors

Who cares?

For a long time, many people in and outside China were unaware of this cruel practice. In recent years, pressure has been mounting locally and internationally to end bear farming. Somehow, the Chinese Government has been slow in giving due attention to the matter and they barely bow to the demand from lobbyists.

A baby step was taken in 2000 to act against the cruel acts. In July that year, the Animals Asia Foundation signed an agreement with the Chinese Government to remove 500 endangered Moon Bears from the worst bile farms in Sichuan province. The agreement has an eventual goal of ending the bile trade.

Here is a video on the bear rescue.

Billboard in Beijing: "Rescue Black Bears. Give Up Bear Bile."
Source: Animals Asia

You can help!

Meanwhile, here are some of the things you can do to help end bear farming:

- Do not support bile trades
- Support "Say No to Bear Bile" Campaign
- Get involved
- Sign a petition
- Learn more about it

There are many articles in the Internet and here is one by GreenMuze. You can also watch this video by Jackie Chan (成龙) who teamed up with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to create awareness. Karen Mok (莫文蔚) also teamed up with Animals Asia Foundation and gave the same message in a separate video.

Lastly, you can spread the words to raise awareness. Share this article with your friends. No one should stay ignorant about bear farming.

"One of the ill effects of cruelty is that it makes the bystanders cruel." ~Thomas Fowell Buxton~

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