In China, a mother bear was driven to kill her own cub, and then herself, in order to escape the daily torture of having her bile collected.
The cub was about to undergo a torturous process that would enable her to have her gall bladder milked. The mother, hearing the cub’s cries, broke free of her cage. The human workers were afraid and scattered. The mother bear went to her cub and tried to free the baby from her restraints. Unable to free her baby, the mother bear gave her baby a tender hug, then strangled her to death. The mother dropped her dead cub to the ground and proceeded to run, head first, into a wall and killed herself.
Black Asiatic Bears, or Moon Bears as they are called due to the crescent-shaped white markings on their chests, are trapped illegally, then forced into squalid cages to live out their time on earth.
Then, these endangered animals must endure having holes punctured in their stomachs and gall bladders, never with the benefit of anesthesia or sterilization of equipment, so tubes may be inserted into the gall bladders. They are placed in ‘crush cages’ where their gall bladders are ‘milked’ for bile, sometimes a few times per day, which is then used for medicinal purposes.
The ordeal is excruciating. The bears chew their paws, or what’s left of their paws–sometimes the paws have been lost to wounds they receive while being trapped, or the bears wear off the skin and break claws trying to free themselves, or the paws are crudely chopped off while the bear is alive and then eaten, which is said to be a delicious delicacy–they clench their teeth, they shake with agony, they cry out, they groan–all in vain. They must endure the daily milking process for years before their bodies succumb and they die. Sometimes it isn’t only the milking process that wears out their bodies. Because the milking holes are never allowed to close, often, the bears get infections in the wounds and surrounding abdominal tissues, tumors, and cancer.
Some bears began hitting themselves in the stomach in order to commit suicide so they would be free of their daily torture. The workers who take the bile from the bears devised iron vests which are placed around the bears’ middles to protect the underbelly.
Bears that have been used for gall bladder milking have been forced to lie down for such long periods of time, they cannot move any parts of their bodies except their heads. They are all undernourished and skeletal.
The bile is extracted for traditional Chinese medicines that treat colds, irregular heart beat, liver disease, diabetes, and most recently, sexual stamina.
The bad news is many people swear by the effectiveness of bear bile and feel Western animal rights activists need to leave well enough alone. The good news is the chemical in the bile can be synthetically created in laboratories, so there is no need to continue the practice of milking bears.
Because the bile is no longer necessary, there is a push to end the practice of collecting bile from Asiatic Black Bears. People like Jill Robinson are working tirelessly to bring the plight of these bears into public awareness and to provide sanctuary for the–to date–365 bears she has rescued thus far, and the hundreds she hopes to free in the future.
If you would like to make a donation or learn more about Jill, the bears, and other animals in need, please visit: http://www.animalsasia.org/
Edit: After this story was published, we received the following quote from Dr. Jill Robinson MBE;
“Bears clearly suffer both physically and psychologically in the
terrible conditions on farms, but we cannot confirm that such trauma
resulting from bear farm captivity could lead to a mother killing her
cub and then herself. To date, despite exhaustive enquiries we have
not been able to verify the origin of the recent story which
references a farmed mother bear strangling her cub before killing
herself. It appears that the Chinese version of the story bears a
strong resemblance to one circulated many years ago. Regardless, the
confinement and cruelty these bears suffer on farms across Asia is
profound, and our work continues towards rescuing as many victims of
the trade as possible and ending bear farming wherever it exists.”
Dr Jill Robinson MBE, Founder and CEO of Animals Asia
Photo credit: ifaw.org/ifaw_international/join_campaigns/emergency_relief/sanctuaries_vital_havens_that_save_lives/saving_moon_bears_from_lives_of_torture_–_china/exposing_cruelties.php