The Dark Side of the Moon Bear and other Sad Stories

The Living Hell of Bile Bears
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Asiatic black bears, commonly called “moon bears,” suffer terribly on Chinese “bear farms” where crude catheters catheters are implanted into the gall bladder through a hole made in the abdominal wall. The bile is used in Traditional Medicines (TM).

The Panyu Bear Sanctuary (PBS), located in Guangdong Province, China, was established in 1996 to house nine bears rescued from a bear bile farm. This was the first rescue center of its kind, and signifies the initiation of a campaign to end bear bile farming in China.

The practice is legal in this country and currently involves some 10,000 to 12,000 bears, primarily Asiatic black bears. The manner in which the bears are kept, and the suffering that they sustain for the harvest of their bile, violates every principle of animal welfare. To date, the sanctuary still holds five bears (the others have died).

Although there is currently no education and lobbying capacity installed at the sanctuary, IFAW continues to use the sufferings of these bears to advocate for animal welfare and anti cruelty legislation. The objective for the sanctuary is to provide a safe and healthy environment for the bears to live out their lives.

These remaining five bears were rescued from a bear bile farm in Guangdong province in June 1995. The Guangdong Forestry Administration helped IFAW to rescue these bears and to this day supports the effort of helping bile farm bears through its special permit for IFAW’s sanctuary. The sanctuary is located in a village near Panyu, a port town on the Pearl River estuary and just 2 hours’ drive south of Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong.

At the time of their rescue by IFAW, the bears were emaciated, stressed beyond endurance, riddled with parasites, draining pus and pain from the gall bladder. They were fistulated with a latex catheter that was pierced into the gall bladder through the abdominal wall. The catheter was threaded under the skin from the middle of the abdomen, along the entire length of the flank, and exited from a hole in the skin on the hip. The bile extractor positioned himself behind the bear every day and drew bile through the long tube with a syringe. The latex catheter method is no longer accepted by China’s regulations for bear bile farming, but it is still found in thousands of the bears who languish in China’s bile farms today. Regardless, the other gall bladder fistulation methods are equally damaging to the health of the bears, and the husbandry methods of the bear farms cause the same degree of pain, disease, discomfort and fear.

Asiatic Black Bears are listed on Class II in China’s Wildlife Protection Law, which allows farming for utilization. Bear bile farming is legal in China and involves an estimated 10,000-12,000 bears. The animals live in cages little larger than their bodies and endure chronic malnutrition, thirst, severe restriction of physical movement, constant abuse and pain, and chronic illness. The conditions under which the bears are kept on these farms, and the suffering that they undergo from the gall bladder fistulation and bile extraction, violates every principle of animal welfare.

Historically, bear bile was used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in very small amounts as a supplement. TCM doctors also prescribe more than 50 herbal medicines to treat the same ailments that benefit from bear bile, many of them to greater effect. IFAW surveys in China (1989, 1990) have found that more than 80% of the Chinese consumers would reject bear bile on grounds of cruelty and a significant number of TCM practitioners have moved away from prescribing bear bile due to concerns over safety and quality. When bear hunting was banned in the 1980s, many bear bile farms sprang up in China. Because farming wildlife for utilization is part of China’s wildlife conservation policy, bear bile farms are increasing their number of bears. To make profit from bear farming and to expand the consumer market, bear bile is made into non-essential, non-TCM products such as toothpaste, wine, shampoo and power drinks. Moreover, bear bile is legally sold only within China but most of it finds its way into black markets throughout Asia and Asian communities in the West. Bear bile farming thereby violates not only the welfare of thousands of bears, but also drives the highly lucrative international trade in illegal wildlife products, and in turn the poaching of bears worldwide. For these reasons, we believe that bear bile farming must end. Ultimately, ending bile farming depends on the consumer: without a market for the product, there would be no bile farms and no poaching of wild bears.

Four of the nine bears that were rescued that day in 1995 have passed on now, victims of an early death brought on by the ravages of bile farming. But Xie Sheung, Digger, Elizabeth, Chu Chu and Hong are still with us, making our lives richer for sharing their world with us.

The bears have indoor dens with deep, cozy sleeping baskets, and a large outdoor enclosure thick with natural vegetation. They have two pools in which they lounge and splash in hot weather. We are currently building climbing structures for them. Through a carefully-designed behavioral enrichment program, the bears will be encouraged to climb and exercise and explore their environment for food and treats, as they do in the wild. This will help to keep them flexible and busy, both of which are important in the management of advancing age-related issues, just as they are in people and other animals. The bears receive a specially-formulated grain mixture that is cooked fresh at 5:00 every morning on site. This is supplemented with large amounts of seasonal fresh produce every day. In addition, they receive nutritional supplements that support the health of their joints.

  Information borrowed from

Bear Baiting The Worlds Worst Sport

In rural Pakistan, up to 2,000 spectators will assemble to watch a tethered and clawless bear set upon by trained fighting dogs.

WSPA is working hard to permanently stop what we believe is one of the world’s most savage blood sports.

The brutal but lucrative contests are organised by powerful local landlords. They own and train the dogs, which are also victims of this 'sport', encouraging ferocity in attack situations.

The bears are owned by Kalanders – traditional bear owners –who are paid by the landlords to bring the bears to fight.

Bear baiting is banned by the Pakistan Wildlife Act and contravenes Islamic teachings, which forbid the baiting of animals.

Taking action

Dogs attack during a bear baiting event, Pakistan
Dogs attack during a bear baiting event, Pakistan
© WSPA/Mark Rissi

WSPA and member society the Pakistan Biodiversity Research Centre (PBRC) have helped to dramatically reduce the number of bear baiting events in recent years, by:

  • Campaigning to bring awareness of international opposition to the ‘sport’ to the Pakistani authorities.
  • Working with the Pakistani government and wildlife officials to halt the fights and look at alternative livelihoods for bear owners.
  • Monitoring the numbers of captive bears and pushing for prosecution.
  • Building the Kund Park sanctuary, providing a home for confiscated bears.
  • Educating potential spectators through a mobile phone awareness unit and religious teachings. In 2007, WSPA persuaded over 1,000 mosques in target areas to preach against bear baiting.
  • Calling for greater action to prevent illegal bear cub poaching. A Pakistan-wide educational programme has raised awareness of the issue.

Support our work

Thanks to your help, WSPA has tracked down and stopped many bear baiting events. We’re getting closer to ending this brutal blood sport altogether.

But there is still much more work to be done.

WSPA needs to gain political support for our call to make bear ownership illegal. Please support us so more wild bears can be made safe to enjoy a life free from fear and injury.

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This is from 1988 but this is still happening In the U.S. today.

43 Are Accused of Poaching Black Bears For Body Parts

Published: August 25, 1988

A three-year undercover operation has resulted in charges against 43 people accused of poaching black bears for their gall bladders, which are prized in Asia as aphrodisiacs and medicine, it was announced Tuesday.

The investigation by Federal and state agents was sparked by the danger poaching poses to the nation's black bear population, said Gary Myers, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Officials estimate the black bear population in the southern Appalachians at about 2,000.

Agents bought 266 gall bladders, 85 claws, 77 feet, 4 heads, 9 hides and a live black bear cub in the investigation, officials said. Bear claws are used to make jewelry, and heads are used as trophies.

A wildlife agency spokesman said that some of the bears were legitimately killed, but noted that it was illegal to sell any part of a bear.

Mr. Myers said studies of the black bears indicated that ''we were driving our black bear population to extinction'' and that poaching accounted for half or more of the annual bear deaths.

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