Asians for Humans, Animals & Nature

Gall Bears' Living Hell

From Buddhist Life Newspaper dated 3/29/02 Translated by Luguan Yan, edited by Pat Olsen from Asians For Humans, Animals & Nature

In recent years, with the rapid development of the international wildlife preservation movement, more and more endangered wild animals are put under protection and regain their chances for life. However, the unfortunate bears are not among them. In China, the invention of the "technology of taking bile without killing the bear" puts the bears in a living state worse than death, all under the euphemism of "wildlife preservation."

Since ancient times, the gall bladder of the bear has been listed as one of the ten classic traditional Chinese medicines. In the past, a bear had to be killed in order to harvest his gall bladder. Since 1984, with the invention of the "technology of taking bile from living bears," bear farms began to emerge in China. On the surface, this seems to be a good thing because the bears do not have to be killed; but in fact, this is the beginning of a mammoth tragedy for them. According to the official statistics, there are over one hundred bear farms in China, with a total number of more than seven thousand bears.

They are concentrated in China's southwest mountain region. We visited one farm with over 800 bladder bears, which claims to be the biggest one in China. We witnessed the excruciating process of taking the bile from the live bears. With the bears' loud and unbearable screaming and howling, the whole scene resembled a living hell.

Imprisoned in iron cages, like in purgatory

Before we stepped into the bladder bears' cell area, one wave after another of loud wailing assailed our ears echoing throughout the whole bear farm. Mr. Wong, the farm manager who accompanied us on our visit, tried to comfort us. "There is nothing wrong," he said, "bears are loud to begin with." The closer we came to the bladder cells, the louder the voices became. With the bears screaming one after another, and the incessant bumping of their bodies against the metal frames, the whole atmosphere seemed to be consumed with indescribable misery.

The bladder factory is nearly 200 square Pings , with several hundred "Iron Cells," which neatly flank the passage. The cell is an iron cage that is hung one foot above the floor, buttressed by iron pillars. In each iron cage is a big black Asian bear. The cages are too small for the bears to turn around so they have to stay motionless. Some bears have smaller bodies, and they are further fixed by iron racks inside the cage so they are incapable of moving.

The floor is slippery and sticky, the air is teaming with the odor of urine and feces, plus the stinking smell of the bile. When an attendant approaches a cage, the bear inside acts like doomsday is coming. He starts restlessly punching the iron cage, wailing loudly with his teeth sticking out and his mouth wide open.

Atrocious--Syringe directly stabbed into the gall

Belly down, the bears are fixed by iron frames, with no way to escape. The attendant squats under the cage, takes a 30 cm steel needle and stabs deeply into the stomach with force.

With this one stab, the black bear roars like crazy. The attendant acts deaf, not moved at all. He takes a vessel and puts it under the needle, the smoking yellow-and-greenish bile flows out of the bear's belly and into the vessel on the ground.

The bear becomes red-eyed and pants heavily. His giant body is constantly shivering and he is lowing with his voice "Woo, Woo…", saliva leaks from his mouth. It looks like he is in extreme pain. The attendant, Mr. Zhan, laughs and says, "This stupid bear is not stupid at all. Every day right before 8:00 am, the time for extracting the bile, hundreds of bears will whimper together, it is really funny." Mr. Wang, the manager, adds coldly, "this beast's bad luck just comes from his gall, it is worth a lot money."