Mike Mongo reveals the worlds of marine, shoreline, and in-land eco-biology

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free The World's Bile Bears

There are new informations of which I learn, informations I find disturbing or uncomfortable of which to learn, but which I feel I am obligated to further awareness of in order to facilitate real and healthy change.

For instance, bile bears.

When I first learn of bile bears, it was by accident. I came across the subject in a metafilter posting denouncing the annual Japanese dolphin culling. There was no link to the subject matter, it was just casually referenced to make a point about cruelty to animals. So I googled "china bear bile". And an entirely new facet of reality revealed itself to me.

In china, mighty supplier of wonderful goods to all of the world, creatures which are not homo sapien are considered resources tolerant of aberration and torture. This is not news. However, a new low, one that is more Hannibal Lector (a truly repellent analogy) and grossly vivisectionist in its practice than it is either human or sensible, has revealed itself.

Based on the unfortunate fact that the ursodeoxycholic acid found in the bile of a type of red-listed Asiatic black bear called a moon bear (so-named for the cream colored crescent shape on the bear's chest) cures the excrutiatingly painful conditions of gallstones and liver problems, (formerly) wild black bears are now "farmed." That is, they are caged in a wire enclosure smaller than a refrigerator after having a tube surgically attached to their stomachs which then drains the bears stomach fluids in reservoirs for later processing and sale. In China, approximately 7,000-9,000 live bears are stored and pumped for their life fluids this way. Another 4,000 are suffering likewise in Viet Nam.

May I recap? Live bears, in very small indoor cages, at this very moment are releasing their stomach fluids through surgically-attached tubing in bile kegs, for the treatment of gallstone and liver problems of homo sapiens - our name which translates to "wise man," somewhere in China.

Does the end justify the means here? Is homo sapien-kind superior enough as to be able to qualify an entirely other species as unworthy of our compassion and respect?

The proponents of the practice says that their "farming" prevents the taking of (presently) wild moon bears by poachers, and even worse conditions and atrocities against the bears from taking place. Which implies that Chinese homo sapiens are immune to compassion and common sense, and that the demand for products derived from unimaginable pain and suffering far exceeds human capacity for adjustment, and learning, and that criminals, extortionists, and sadists rule the day. Which of course is untrue.

Public outcry is not enough. The Chinese government is obligated to speak to its own people on this issue, and communicate education on the subject, as well as alternative, humane methods of treatment.

Please, spread the word on the subject of bile bears. Bring this inhumane practice to light. It is very really the 21st Century, and unless our kinds begin behaving as the "wise man" our name announces us to be, in time, it will certainly be us ourselves - in one way or another - who later begs the mercy of our "wise" captors.

More links related to the subject of bile bears:
2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
2005 article in San Francisco Chronicle
AsiaAnimal's Chinese bear page [WARNING-disturbing images]
2006 press conference by Chinese Embassy on subject of animal abuses and bile bears
2005 BBC article on Chinese bear sanctuary

Recent 2006 controversy in Virginia over sale of "bear parts"
Israeli Animal Help site on Bile Bears (multi-lingual)

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