As part of Bear Awareness Week, I thought I’d share the plight of the Asiatic Black Bear (also called the Moon Bear for the yellow crescent across their chest). I first learned about this bear at a bear-keeping conference I attended last year. Our keynote speaker was Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia Foundation, who works on Moon Bear rescues, and by the end of her talk the whole audience was in tears. While China works on a “green” Olympics for this summer, bear bile farming operations are still widespread.
Bears are farmed for their bile. The bile is used in Traditional Medicine. Bears are kept in cages only inches bigger than their bodies for their entire lifespans. They have rusty metal catheters implanted in their abdomens, that stay there dripping bile out over the course of years. They can’t turn around, can’t stand up, and when Animals Asia is successful in rescuing them from these rural farms, they are often so close to death some must be euthanized. The good news is, that some survive, and when vet care, nutrition and freedom to live like a bear are given to them at the rescue center, these bears have the amazing capability to recover from their many years of pain and fear. Animals Asia has done some great work rescuing, and even greater work with the Chinese government and in educating people to try to stop this horrific practice.