Animal Asia’s investigations on the issue has unsurfaced that more than 10,000 bears – mainly moon bears, but also sun bears and brown bears – are kept on bile farms in China, and around 2,400 in Vietnam. The bears are milked regularly for their bile, which is used in traditional medicine.
Bile is extracted using various painful, invasive techniques, all of which cause massive infection in the bears. This cruel practice continues despite the availability of a large number of effective and affordable herbal and synthetic alternatives.
Most farmed bears are kept in tiny cages. In China, the cages are sometimes so small that the bears are unable to turn around or stand on all fours. Some bears are put into cages as cubs and never released. Bears may be kept caged like this for up to 30 years. Most farmed bears are starved, dehydrated and suffer from multiple diseases and malignant tumours that ultimately kill them.
As shown by other consequences of Chinese Traditional Medicine which can have far reaching and often cruel effects (most notable including the requirement of ivory for many treatments) on the world’s wild life despite being marginally less effective than contemporary medicine. Perhaps this is a reflection on human nature and it is easy to brandish the perpetrators of these practises as inhuman but in reality they are simply trying to survive, similar to the intentions of their customers who are simply desperately trying to survive. The missing ‘ingredient’ in this terrible situation is knowledge and education. Which would put a stop to the ineffective and cruel customs to continue despite the pain and suffering it may cause.
The main source of demand has been located in South Korea in which Animal Asia has launched a Healing without Harm campaign in order to engage with doctors and encourage them to sign a pledge not to prescribe bear bile, and to advocate the alternatives.
If this issue concerns you or if you want to get involved in preventing the trade of bile bears please visit:
And to donate: