Monday, July 15, 2013

No need for bear bile

From: WSPA World Society for the Protection of Animals
In parts of Asia, bears are farmed for their bile in appallingly cruel conditions. Once extracted, the bile is used in some Traditional Asian Medicines. WSPA is working with the Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) community to end the use of bear bile by promoting effective herbal and synthetic alternatives.

The bile trade

Bears are the only mammals to produce large amounts of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), the active ingredient in bear bile.
Bear farms emerged in the 1980's as a cost effective way to meet the demand for UDCA, which has been used to treat kidney problems and stomach and digestive disorders.
More recently bear bile has been added to non-medicinal products such as wine and shampoo.
Since the 1980's, the number of bears farmed in Asia has increased. Official figures from the region show around 12,000 bears are held in farms.
The conditions are enclosed, barren and lead to physical and mental illness.

Modern alternatives

Effective synthetic and herbal alternatives to bear bile are both widely available and affordable.
WSPA is working with the TAM community to educate consumers that the extraction and use of bear bile is inherently cruel.
More than 30 TAM groups have spoken out against bear bile. Their concern for animal welfare has led them to seek alternatives.
You can help WSPA consign bear farming and the use of bear bile to history.
If you use Traditional Asian Medicine, make sure your practitioner does not use bear bile in any of their treatments. Raising awareness and encouraging the use of alternatives will help protect bears from this cruel industry.
Download our Herbal Alternatives to Bear Bile report (PDF)

There are many thousands of bears being help captive in the bile industry across East and South East Asia. Most are kept in cages the size of a telephone booth, in which they are unable to stand and can only turn around with difficulty.
The bears in these farms are visibly in severe distress. They are often hurt or scarred from repeatedly rubbing or hitting themselves against the bars of their tiny enclosures.
Farmers prevent bears from hibernating – the cage floors are iron bars to stop the bears lying on firm ground.

Painful surgery

Bear bile can be accessed in a number of inhumane ways. All are likely to be carried out by untrained farm workers, with no veterinary experience.
Depending on the region, farms will use one of three methods:
  • A tube leading into the gall bladder is created, allowing bile to be extracted. To stop the tube closing up, the abdominal wound is reopened up to three times a day. 
  • Ultrasound equipment is used to locate the gall bladder, before a syringe is inserted deep into the bear’s body to extract the bile.
  • Bears are caged, left to reach a certain age and then killed. The bile is extracted once the bear is dead.

Lifelong suffering

If those bears subjected to operations do not die during or after the first procedure, they suffer from serious health problems.
Infections to the open wounds, tumors, internal abscesses, gallstones, and other related illnesses are common. It is a life of unremitting pain and distress.
Bears may stop producing bile after only a few years. They are then left to die or are killed for their paws or gall bladder.

Protect the bears

You can help WSPA end bear farming:

  • donate at https://www.wspadonations.org or fundraise to help keep up the pressure on bear farms.
  • Do not use products which contain bile. Spread the word about alternatives
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