Bear Farming in China and the Veterinary Findings of Bear Bile Extraction Methods
The Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is listed under CITES as appendix 1, and is the species most frequently maintained in bear farms for bile extraction. Different surgical techniques and catheter implantation are performed in order for bile extraction to occur, all of which have undetermined peri and postsurgical mortality rates. All methods observed involve pain and suffering to the individual animal. Synthetic and herbal alternatives are readily available to replace bile in both allopathic and traditional medicines. Massive expansion of the bile market due to bear farming has led to bile now being used in many nontraditional medicine ways, impacting international bear populations, as other bear species are taken to fuel the trade in Asia and for Asian consumers worldwide. Bear farming was originally encouraged to protect ‘wild’ bears, but there is still a demand for ‘wild’ bear bile.
In July 2000, the Animals Asia Foundation, the Chinese government departments of the Beijing China Wildlife Conservation Association, and the Sichuan Forestry Department, signed an agreement to allow the rescue of 500 bears from the cruelest farms and to commit to working towards the end of bear farming in China. Since the agreement has been signed 30 bear farms have been closed by the Chinese government and over 70 bears confiscated into the care of the Animals Asia Foundation at their Rescue Center in Chengdu, Sichuan province.
The authors would like to thank the Beijing China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Sichuan Forestry Department for their assistance to Animals Asia Foundation in rescuing 500 bears.