Stop Bear Farming and Bile Extraction From Bears. Bring in strict and stringent laws to stop the sale of Bile Extraction from Bears.

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    President Jiang ZEMIN, China and the Honorable Minister Hiroshi OHKI, Min. Of The Environment, Japan.
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During 1999 and 2000, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)conducted one of the most comprehensive inspections of Chinese bear farms undertaken. The investigation revealed how at farms across China, bears are surgically mutilated and 'milked' each day for their gall bile. These animals endure the most appalling levels of cruelty and neglect, and attempts to improve standards at two government-monitored farms in China have not alleviated even basic animal welfare problems.

The research also showed that bear farming continues to jeopardize the survival of bears in the wild. In South East Asia, black bears are captured and sold to bear farms, while the vigorous marketing of bear bile products across the world has put a price on the head of every living bear.

There are now officially 247 bear farms across China, housing an estimated total of 7,002 bears. The farms factory methods house bears in steel cages which on average are 0.8m x 1.3m x 2m in size, a space within which a bear can hardly move, sit up, or even turn around.

The floors of the bears' cages are constructed from iron bars, so that the animals are denied the opportunity to stand or lie on firm ground. Injuries to the head, paws and back from repeated rubbing against the cage bars are present on most animals. Wounds or scars to the face, head, paws and back are noticable because of the friction caused by containment.

On most farms, surgery to enable bile extraction is carried out by farm owners with no veterinary training. During illness, drugs are sometimes administered, but when they are not effective, bears are commonly left to die.

Chinese specialists in bear farming techniques inform that for every two successful bile fistula implantations, there are another two or three bear deaths due to complications and infections.

During bile milking, the bears show signs of severe distress. Moaning and banging of heads against the cage is common, while some bears were seen to chew their own paws.

Between the ages of five and ten, bears may stop producing bile. They are then put in another cage, where they wait, either until death comes through sickness or starvation, or they are killed for their paws and gall bladders.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic growth in the production of bear bile products, which has spawned a market for a whole new range of items far removed from the formulations of traditional Chinese medicine. Today, bile is used as an ingredient in shampoo, wine, eye drops and all manor of pre-prepared ointments. In 1999, bottles of bear bile wine were even handed out as gifts for passengers on internal flights.

There are many alternatives to bear bile on the market, containing the active constituent found in bear bile: UrsoDeoxyCholic Acid (UDCA). It is estimated that 100,000 kg of synthesised UDCA is already being consumed each year in China, Japan and South Korea, and that the world consumption may be double this figure. Many Chinese practitioners also state that there are at least 75 herbal alternatives that can replace the use of bear bile.

To: Minister of the Environment
Hiroshi OHKI
No. 5 Godochosha 1-2-2 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-8916 Japan
Fax: +81-3+3581-7090
E-mail: [email protected]

President Jiang Zemin
Peoples Republic Of China
9 Xi-Huang Chenggen
Beijing 100032
E-mail: c/o [email protected]

I am appalled to learn of the barbaric treatment of bears, kept for their bile at farms in China. The findings of WSPA prove that bear farming can never be justified.

This industry is a disgrace to your country. Please show that you are a great leader and take action to close all bear farms as soon as possible.

I agree with the WSPA's (World Society For The Protection Of Animals) recommendations fully.

WSPA recommends that:

The bear farming industry in China should be brought to an end as soon as is feasible.

The Chinese wildlife authorities should undertake a review of conservation laws aimed at protecting bears in the wild, and fully enforce appropriate protection measures.

CITES should ensure that animal welfare standards are incorporated into proposed guidelines for the registration of captive breeding facilities.

CITES should undertake an assessment of non-animal alternatives to endangered species that are used in traditional medicine.

Parties to CITES should take all efforts to prohibit the international and domestic trade in bear parts and derivatives.

Parties to CITES should provide full documentation of national legislation relating to the control of the trade in bear products and give an assessment of the effectiveness of this legislation.