Raquel Benson is a Senior Contributor to TDA, a journalism student, humanist, and artist with issues of chronic imagination. She may be brash, but it stems from a deeper concern for the world around her.
Animal Rights – Between 10,000 and 20,000 bears are held in captivity on bile farms across Southeast Asia and are forced to suffer as their bile is harvested to be used in traditional Chinese medicine. In fact, the practice is so barbarically inhumane that the bears are driven insane and will sometimes gnaw off their own limbs and/or commit suicide by going on hunger strikes until they eventually die.
Bile farm bears are normally held in small extraction cages, often called “crush cages,” which measure about 2.6 feet by 4.2 feet by 6.5 feet, to make it easier to collect the bile. When it comes to large species like Asiatic black bears, which are the most common bears used in extraction, the size of the cage prevents the animals from standing or rolling over.
Until the 1970s, the bile was taken from bears that were killed in the wild and used “for gastric bypass surgery and to treat minor ailments such as sore throats, sprains, as well as epilepsy.” Because the extraction of the bile did not involve torture, it “eased consumer’s minds.”
However, in an effort to meet the supply demands, South Korea invented a “cruel and excruciating,” method of extracting bile from live bears.
“The bile is removed from the bear by inserting a catheter tube through a permanent incision in the abdomen and gall bladder […]Sometimes a permanently implanted metal tube is used,” said executive director of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Louis Ng.
Ng insists that this problem has to be “tackled on two fronts — the users of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) and the farms themselves.” However, activists calling for an end to this cruel and inhumane practice have launched a new campaign aimed at the pharmaceutical companies that use the bile in medicine.
Sign the petition to end bear farming here.
Click here to learn how to keep endangered animals out of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Find out more about ACRES.
Watch a presentation here.
WARNING: Some of these videos contain content that is disturbing and sad. Please watch at your own risk.
Watch NG Louis.
Watch Jackie Chan’s PSA.
Watch TRAFFIC’s video.