'Bile Farmers' Turn Bears' Lives Into Misery

Keepers extract bile from their gall bladders to sell
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2010 3:00 PM CST
'Bile Farmers' Turn Bears' Lives Into Misery
A moon bear in a cage on a farm in Khanh Binh village, Tan Uyen town, Binh Duong province, Vietnam.   (AP Photo/Le Quang Nhat)

The moon bear is a threatened species in Vietnam and other South Asia nations, and a gruesome trend is making matters worse. Moon bear "farmers" keep thousands of the bears caged, then crudely extract bile from their gall bladders with a syringe to sell for reputed benefits in Chinese medicine, reports Global Post. The practice is illegal, but police rarely enforce the law.

Animal rights activists have been raiding farms to free the animals and trying to raise awareness. “We found that with 80 or 90% of bears on the farms, their gallbladders are not destroyed, but they are useless,” said one. “You stab them enough times in the same place, you damage the liver, you damage the gallbladder, and it just turns to scar tissue.” An estimated 14,000 bears are kept this way, about half the remaining population. (More bear stories.)

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