Moon Bear Rescue — A decade on….

This is a video about Asiatic Black Bears also known as Moon Bears because of the crescent shape moon in their chests, found in mountainous regions such as China; Vietnam and Lao.

Sadly these beautiful creatures are highly endangered and suffer a dire faith at the hands of humans. Across Asia thousands of Moon Bears are being held in captivity on farms, some up to 30 years, and milked for their bile because it is believed to be a health tonic in the practice of Traditional Asian Medicine.

They are kept in very small cages whilst being starved;dehydrated; drugged; restrained. and have their abdomens jabbed with un-sterilised needles until their gallbladders are punctured to release the “prized” bile,

Others are milked through open infected abdominal wounds or rusty catheters and they are pumped with antibiotics and other drugs just to keep them alive.

Most of them develop massive infections and multiple diseases and malignant tumours that ultimately kill them.

Bears in captivity suffer beyond any comprehension. When their bodies are exhausted and they no longer can produce bile, because they are riddled with disease, they are not even given the dignity of humane euthanasia. These animals are left to suffer, to starve and die of dehydration. This happens many times. The most dramatic case was in 2008 with a bear named Peace.

Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) starting rescuing bears way back in 1995. However, bears are still dying in droves.

Those bears that AAF manage to rescue, sometimes arrive at the sanctuaries wearing gruesome metal jackets still in their cages – for most the only environment they ever known – suffering from wounds to their snouts; their teeth worn way or they are shattered from biting at the cage bars and their feet are cracked and rotting, having never felt the earth beneath them.

Many have paws or even whole limbs missing from having been trapped in the wild using heavy spring-loaded steel traps that crush and shatter their bones.

Once freed from their cages they are taken immediately to a hospital for examination and surgery by AAF’s specialist veterinary team.

Over the years AAF have seen bears that they loved and respected and tried so hard to save, losing the battle, losing their lives in the hideous trade of bile farming.

The bears that don’t make it however, don’t die in vain, they give important scientific data to help to put an end to the appalling practice of milking bear bile.

The ones that pull through face a long road of rehabilitation and socialisation. Learning to trust humans is often the first step, these special bears continue to keep us in awe with their amazing resilience, forgiveness and spirit.

Bears like Wilfred, who managed to live through appalling conditions, with an infected fistula, blindness and paralysis but later on, after being rescued, become an ambassador for those left behind.

The worst part of this appalling trade, disgusting industry is that bear bile is completely unnecessary. There are over 54 different herbal alternatives and man-made synthetics that take its place. No one is going to die for the lack of bear bile.

Animals Asia have spent several years conducting important research with Chinese scientists on the effectiveness of herbal alternatives to bear bile,

Research by the School of Chinese Medicine at the University of Hong Kong has found that there are herbal medicines which function similarly to bear bile and are more effective than bear bile in general. Moreover, they also rarely produce side effects. In conclusion research has found that using bear bile is unnecessary because there are many alternatives.

According to Prof. Liu Zheng Cai, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioner: The philosophy of TCM “…is about balance and harmony between man and nature. Man has a close relationship with nature. We could say man and nature are One. So, no matter whether hunting or farming bears for bile, I think both are not good. This is against the principle of balance and harmony and thee are alternatives. Bear bile is not a necessity…”

There is growing support for the AAF’s work in the broader community in China to end bear farming and to only use products that heal without harming.

The bears that are rescued by AAF are sick and suffer from a litany of ailments: liver and gallbladder cancer; heart disease and hundred of other metabolic conditions. Over 35% have succumbed to liver tumours and in some cases these are 7 kg in weight. Bile taken from these extremely sick bears is mixed with blood; pus; urine and even faeces and collected in un-sterilised basins.

So, bear bile that finds its way into consumers’ hands contains the same infectious and cancerous elements that are killing these very sick bears.

Please help us end the bear bile trade

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