Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bear Bile

I've told a story a few times recently that I'll finally post about. Right at the end of my time in Vietnam, someone told me about a strange and cruel business -- extracting bile from bears' gallbladders. The bile is used as a traditional medicine and is sold for a lot of money.

I personally haven't seen any bear farms but found this article someone wrote about the horrifying process in China:

The cruelty of sucking gallbladder juice (bile) from live bears in China

World Journal, Wednesday, April 15, 1998
(By Youn Show Lee; translated by Vicky Ho Lynn from the Chinese)

"The cruelty of sucking gallbladder juice from live bears in China"

A few months ago while on a business trip, I had a chance to visit Angel Bridge at the foot of Long Day Mountain in China. At that time, we also went to explore a large bear farm which is surrounded by forest and beautiful scenery --- it is truly an isolated paradise. All of sudden I saw about fifteen large cages with bears in them. The farm owner told me this is a gallbladder farm, the purpose of which is to continuously extract fluid from the bears' gallbladders. Because of the high demand, it is an extremely profitable business.

When we arrived at the farm, the bears and the caretaker seemed to be getting along very well, all was calm. Suddenly four huge men showed up and the bears suddenly started screaming fearfully and rocking their cages hard as if they saw a ghost. The caretaker told me every morning at eight o'clock liquid is drawn from their gallbladders. Around seven-forty-five, the bears become agitated and have no appetite to eat and they start screaming and crying desperately for help.

In white uniforms, and without any emotion on their faces, the four men went into one of the cages. They quickly used a steel wire to snatch the bear by the neck, at which point the bear's eyes bulged out and it started gnashing its teeth and crying. They are so scared to death and this trauma causes them to defecate at the same time.

In the bear's stomach, there is a hole with a steel tube inserted directly into the gallbladder. Outside the area there is a plastic tube connected to the steel tube for drawing the liquid. The area is covered tightly with surgical tape. When the time comes, the tape and cover are removed and a syringe is used to withdraw the green liquid from the gallbladder. Three big men went in and pressed bear's 4 legs with force and inserted a syringe into plastic tube. When the dark green gallbladder juice was sucked from bear's body, the poor bear opened her mouth so big, her two eyes were bulging and her entire body was trembling so hard throughout the whole procedure.

This kind of severe torturing went on for about two hours until all the bears had been subjected to the same torture. The crying and screaming was so hard and loud and echoed the entire mountain and valley. It frightened me so much, my heart ached and my head started spinning.

After this unthinkable torture, the bears used their paws to hold their stomachs. They curled up and shivered and I could see tears in their bright little eyes...

Around 10:30, someone cried out that there had been an accident in cage number 5. We followed the owner to rush into the bear farm and were shocked at what we saw. A brown bear had managed to pull out his own intestines and was holding them up in the air, roaring and screaming, as if he were madly "protesting" the cruelty and insanity of the humans. There was blood all over the cage. It was so difficult to watch such a suicidal scene. Never in my life had I been in such shock or so devastated. At that time, someone rang the security alarm, immediately people rushed into the bear farm and waving the sharp ax and big steel hook. The owner shouted :"Hurry to 'rescue' the bear paws!" The man in the cage was reluctant to continue to go forward. But the owner stamped his feet and kept yelling: "You have to cut them off while the bear is alive. That is the only way they are saleable!" Right after that, I saw the sharp ax swung and the number 5 bear's paws were immediately chopped off with blood gushing out.....

Perhaps the killing smell filled in the cage number 5. The other bears then suddenly started to cry and scream sadly and desperately again and had the tendency to be violent. It shook the whole island. The farm owner had a butcher background. When the bears appeared ready to act violently and workers were panicking and running away, the owner stopped them and ordered them to put "steel jackets" on five of the most aggressive bears and give them a shot of morphine. As soon as the bears saw the "steel jackets", they immediately became quiet. It seemed the bears all got the painful lessons from the "steel jackets", otherwise they would not calm down so quickly.

This whole unbelievable incident affected me so deeply that their sad and innocent faces haunted me day and night and will continue to haunt me until the day I die. I felt a strong need to expose this incident to the world. Please widely distribute this true story and hope that everyone who reads this will do something to stop this kind of insanity from Chinese bear farms and to help these desperate poor creatures. Definitely, the Chinese Animals protection law needs to be improved, urgently.