In 2005, the Vietnamese government took measures against the cruel keeping of bears by banning the sale and consumption of bear bile. However, approximately 400 bears still remain on more around 130 farms.
Through our research, we've found most of these bears suffer endlessly in tiny metal cages. To make matters worse, bile is still extracted from many of these innocent bears' stomachs. Their bile is then sold in secret on the black market, later used for traditional medicines and made into tinctures.
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To extract bile, bears are first anaesthetized under appalling conditions. Anesthetic is often administered unprofessionally or is too weak. As a result, the bears are subjected to incredible pain while they are still awake.
Next their gallbladders are located using an ultrasound and punctured with a needle through the abdominal wall.
After extraction, the wounds often become inflamed. Bears whose bile is regularly extracted suffer from painful abscesses, blood poisoning, or even cancer of the liver. In addition, their confinement in tiny cages leads to massive behavioral disorders and in the worst cases, self-mutilation.
FOUR PAWS experts have visited several bear farms and documented numerous cases of abuse.
Kept in cramped metal cages, the bears can’t lie down or stand fully upright. Some cages are so small a fully-grown bear can has difficulty turning around.
"The cages are extremely tiny, scarcely larger than the bears themselves, and completely devoid of stimuli. The bears lack everything. They are ill and listless. This is the definition of extreme cruelty to animals."
Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS wild animal expert
The alleged "power" of bear bile
Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bear bile is believed to be an effective treatment of certain diseases ranging from inflammation, to headaches, to hemorrhoids.
While experts question the actual benefits, and better herbal and synthetic alternatives are available, bear bile is still a sought-after product in many Asian countries. Although the extraction, sale, and consumption of bear bile in Vietnam is banned, bear bile is still secretly traded on the black market.
Stolen from the Wild
TCM experts believe natural bear bile has greater effectiveness than bile from bears born into captivity. In 2015, FOUR PAWS discovered that most of the 1,300 bile bears in Vietnam were originally captured from the wild. This makes ending the bile bear industry a vital part to the survival and recovery of wild bear populations in Vietnam.