Should 9,000 bears be tortured to make medicine?

August 24, 2004

Should 9,000 bears be tortured to make medicine?

In China, bears have traditionally roamed in the wild. Some still do, but increasing numbers are being caught and taken to ?bear farms? where they?re kept in extremely cramped conditions inside small metal cages. These farms exist primarily to collect bear bile for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Encased behind bars, a bear will not have enough room to stand up or turn around. To make his discomfort worse, a tube will be attached to his body via a permanent wound in his stomach. Through this often contaminated tube, the bear?s bile is drained twice a day.

If he?s lucky, a captured bear will NOT survive the initial ?operation? to attach the tube for bile collection. This procedure is rarely performed by a vet and there?s a less than 60% chance the animal will survive. If he lives, a bear can expect excruciating pain every day until he dies.

Bear bile has been used in TCM for many years but the active ingredient in bear bile can be produced synthetically. In fact, there are over 75 herbal alternatives that do what bear bile is claimed to do. So the torture of bears in order to collect their bile is totally unnecessary.

Over the last 20 years, the growing popularity of TCM and effective marketing of bear bile products has increased consumer demand. Existing international laws designed to protect endangered species have not stopped a multi-million dollar illegal trade that threatens the survival of all bear species.

To counter this, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is trying to reduce demand for bear bile products by informing consumers about the cruelty of bear farms as well as the availability of effective cruelty-free alternatives.

We?re also working with the Department of the Environment and Heritage to help stem the illegal bear bile trade in Australia.

By raising awareness about the horrors of intensive bear farming, WSPA aims to embarrass the Chinese government so they will ban this practice and enforce existing laws that prohibit trade in bear products.

It?s a big task. We need people who love animals to support our ongoing work to change consumer behaviour and lobby the Chinese government to outlaw this inhumane treatment of these beautiful animals.

Help WSPA free animals from cruelty WSPA

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