1,000 doctors in China sign pledge against bear bile
Over a thousand doctors in China have signed a pledge not to prescribe bear bile to their patients. The doctors were attending the 8th Shanghai International Forum of Infection Control (SIFIC) which took place in Shandong province.
The pledge cards were produced by Animals Asia, the animal welfare group that campaigns to end bear bile farming, and the only organisation with a bear sanctuary in China. The Animals Asia team has been rescuing bears from the bear bile industry since 1994.
Animals Asia met with doctors at the event and provided information on the cruelty involved in the bear farming industry, and the potential health risks for patients of taking infected bile.
The pledge card states:
“As a doctor, I care about the health of my patients and I sympathize with the situation of black bears. I will join Animals Asia’s ‘Healing without Harm’ campaign, and will not prescribe bear bile products to my patients in the future.”
In some Asian countries, moon bears are kept in small cages for up to 30 years, and have their bile extracted through catheters, needles and open wounds. Starved, dehydrated and riddled with ailments, this is a living hell for the bears. The bile is used as a form of medicine.
Animals Asia is working to end the barbaric bear bile trade, which sees more than 14,000 bears kept in cages on farms throughout China and Vietnam.
On learning about the cruelty to the bears and the condition of the extracted bile, the doctors expressed astonishment, having not realised the nature of the industry, and the potential harm to consumers from bear bile products. Many doctors and hospital directors are now keen to work closely with Animals Asia to present information on bear farming to their hospitals to spread the word to doctors and nurses from all departments.
Toby Zhang, China External Affairs Director, Animals Asia commented:
“The medical industry is devoted to helping people to be healthy, but prescribing bear bile is not only causing suffering to thousands of bears, it may also be harming the health of patients. It is greatly encouraging that doctors are signing this pledge not to prescribe bear bile in the future, and we hope this will help lead to the end of bear bile farming in China.”
In addition to the animal welfare and public health concerns, bear bile farming is also a conservation issue. Asiatic black bears are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) lists Asiatic black bears in appendix 1, the most critical category of endangerment.
Leading conservationists believe that bear bile farming is having a negative impact on the Asiatic Black Bear population, with many farmed bears found to have been illegally caught in the wild. The bear farming industry promotes the use of bile, and drives demand, which in turn is thought to lead to the capture of more bears.