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Bear Farming

Bear Bile Farming, China - Photo credit: World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

Bear farming is a singularly nasty form of animal abuse, intended only to harvest bile from the gallbladder.

To reach the gallbladder, which is deep inside the bear's body, a connection must be made from the gallbladder to the skin. This connection (or fistula) is made by inserting a metal or plastic tube, or by creating a tissue bridge (in essence, a leak) between the gallbladder and the skin. This surgery is performed by individuals mostly untrained and unskilled, and does not meet modern veterinary standards. Many bears die during or soon after the fistula operation.

After the bile fistula is established, the bear is confined in a cage, often hardly bigger than its body, to keep the fistula open and control the bear. This lasts the entire life of the bear.

To obtain bile from the fistula some bears are dressed in a "metal jacket" with a collection container attached. Other bears are forced to lie on the floor of their small "crush cage" so the bile will drip downward. A bear is a powerful healer; its body will try to exclude a metal or plastic tube (just like our bodies try and force out a splinter) or close the tissue bridge. This leads to scarring and damage to both the outside and inside of the bear. In some bears, hot pieces of metal are inserted to keep the hole open. This is done without any form of anesthesia or sedation.

In essence, the life of a farmed bear is hell. It is pain, agony, confinement. Physical and mental torture. A life of fear. These bears often go "crazy" from their confinement and suffer from a variety of disfiguring injuries related to lack of movement and the operations they undergo. Most are malnourished and small. Many are missing a limb, the result of the wire snare used to trap them from the wild. They do not have continuous access to water. Many are hairless. They often have their teeth and claws removed to make them easier to handle. These bears have a high rate of liver cancer, the result of chronic infection and inflammation of the gallbladder and liver.

Bear farming does not exist in the United States, but there are at least 12,000 bears in Asian bear farms, in China, Korea, and Vietnam. Bear farming causes incredible suffering, for no reason, to harvest a substance that is now completely unnecessary.