If there’s one practice in China and other parts of Asia that must be stopped, it must be bear farming. At first glance, bear farming may have a good purpose which was to reduce the number of bears poached from the wild. However, wild-life researchers are now concerned over its danger to bears overall.
The practice has been around for some time. It was used by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to gather the bile of bears to produce medicinal goods. During the early 1980s, the practice was even intensified when it was commercialized. Now, there is an estimated 7,000 bears held captive in China and some more in other neighboring Asian countries.
The Plight of Bears – Farmed bears are practically in living hell. First, let’s talk about the bears’ living space – or the lack of it. The bears are confined in crush cages, which are hardly bigger than the animal. Oftentimes, they are rusted shut. There is no form of sanitation and the bears do not have continuous access to water. The bears suffer from injuries, worm, peritonitis and other parasites. There is not much space for movement. As a result, their muscles weaken and waste away. They almost cannot stand or move. Their diet is no better. It consists of grain mash or porridge because it’s the only thing the bears can handle. This is because the bear’s canine teeth and claws are taken off to prevent injuries to the farmers. And I haven’t even gotten to the worst part yet.
Bile Extraction – The prime purpose for farming of bears is bile extraction. It causes extreme pain and agony to poor bears. I, myself could not even describe the process without grimacing. It is a sick and crude method.
Who Performs It – Most of the time, untrained and unskilled technicians are the ones conducting the procedure. Again, there is no sanitation to the process. During the process, the bears gnash their teeth, bite the bars, twitch and utter distress calls. And afterwards, they are seen curling up, shivering, and holding their paws to their stomach. And this goes on for the rest of their lives. Bile is taken repeatedly over the bear’s whole life. As a result, they suffer from liver cancer due to chronic infection and inflammation of the liver and gall bladder.
All these, the insufficient and inhuman habitat, the repeated torture, add up to cause real suffering and agony for the bears. Their health depreciates very quickly and their life span is only 4 years.
All For Nothing – And all this, the torture of bile extraction, is for nothing. The use of bile is obsolete. There is no need for the bears to undergo such confinement and suffering for something that is not even needed. There are at least 75 alternatives to using bear bile. Synthetic bile is available, which contains the active ingredient found in bear bile. Demand for bile is decreasing, and right now, the farmers have an oversupply.