Saturday, 26 July 2008

The torment of bears... no-one could bear it!

This morning I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu. The moon bears are Asiatic black bears with a distinctive golden crescent on their chests. But now comes the terrible part: Thousands of them are kept in tiny little cages, barely larger than the bear him/herself, in bear farms to extract their bile with rusting catherers implanted in their gallbladders or open and infected holes injected in their abdomens for the bile to weep. Subjected to absolute torture for all their lives for the sake of "medicine" -- the bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine, but it could easily be replaced by herbs.

The moon bear rescue centre was established in the late 1990s. It's funded by AnimalsAsia, and the rescue centre in Sichuan has so far rescued over 200 bears from the farms. Bear farming is incredibly still legal in China, hence getting the bears out of them and getting the farms to close requires great negotiation skills. The licenses of the closed farms are passed to AnimalsAsia and the policy doesn't allow any new licenses issued in China. The bears are brought to the centre together with their cages and other equipment so the farmers wouldn't just immediately replace them with other bears. Then they go through massive surgery to med the damage inflicted in the extraction techniques. The gall bladders are often removed as they are damaged beyond repair. Afterwards the bears recover, in cages but considerably bigger ones, as they need time to adjust and also mustn't scratch their wounds. Unfortunately for a large number of bears help comes too late, approximately 15% of rescued bears do not survive.

After recovery they are rehabilitated in the bear sanctuary, where the bears usually for the first time in years get to walk and play and interact with other bears. It's truly delightful to see how they have recovered from their terrible pasts and seem to be enjoying their lives lying in the sun or playing in the water.

Another sanctuary has recently been opened in Vietnam. Please donate whatever you can afford to support this important work. Donations can be made online through AnimalsAsia.


Guess Who said...

Those poor bears. Apparently they're not as well-known as pandas, so the facilities are not as "good" at all. But I like the one lying on the couch, watching you video-taping him... Looks so relaxing!

Jari (travelling-vegan) said...

Right, they're only "category 2" endangered. Either way, no creature should be subjected to such torture!

Yup, he looked like he was having a good time. :-)

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

I love sun bears...I guess they're related to moon bears, with the same threats facing them. That's great that you got to visit them!

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