Problems Associated with the “Free-Dripping Fistula Technique” as a Method of Bile Extraction from Asiatic Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus)
Gail M. Cochrane, BVMS, MRCVS
The Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is the only species of bear currently legally allowed to be extracted for bile within China. The “free-dripping fistula technique” is the only method allowed under current regulations. Officials within China believe that this technique “can ensure the health of the bears and avoid their maltreatment.” Cholecystectomies performed on Asiatic black bears rescued from bear farms that have had the “free-dripping fistula technique” performed indicates that cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, polyp formation and the presence of foreign bodies within the gallbladder are common problems found in these bears, which would lead to significant health problems and a reduced lifespan.
The author would like to thank the Beijing China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Sichuan Forestry Department for confiscating these bears into the care of the Animals Asia Foundation.