Shipping boss urges end to bile farming after visit to China bear sanctuary
25 March 2010
The Chairman of shipping giant Orient Overseas (International) Limited, CC Tung, has called for an end to bear bile farming for the traditional medicine trade.
Mr Tung (Chee Chen) made the comments after touring Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, Sichuan Province on Monday (22 March) with his wife, Harriet, who was visiting the sanctuary a second time and has sponsored one of our rescued bears, naming him Dong Fong Hai Wai (the Chinese name for her husband’s shipping group).
Mr Tung – brother to Tung Chee Hwa, Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive and now Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Politics Consultative Conference – said bear farming was “unnecessary” and urged consumers of bear bile to take herbal or synthetic alternatives. He and Harriet joined more than 50 local primary school children in a special Ching Ming or “grave-sweeping” ceremony at the rescue centre to honour the bears that have died, laying a wreath on the grave of the first bear we rescued, three-legged Andrew.
“It’s great to know Chinese children are so supportive of the work to end bear farming,” Harriet said. “This is a strong message that it is Chinese people themselves who want to get rid of this industry and help our own bears.” She also raised concerns about the health risks of consuming bile extracted from bears that were so ill.
Animals Asia’s Founder and CEO Jill Robinson said Mr Tung, who was on his first visit to the sanctuary, was clearly moved to learn the full extent of the bears’ suffering. “Both CC and Harriet were horrified to see the tiny cages and barbaric equipment used to restrain and extract bile from the bears, and very supportive of our education programmes within China to engage the government and public in understanding the truth behind the industry,” Ms Robinson said.
“Harriet and CC also looked on as our vet team gave a health-check to one of the bears, and of course visited Dong Fong Hai Wai. “Dong Fong was outside when we arrived and wandering happily around the grassy enclosure before deciding to go back into the den, climb into his hanging-basket bed and take a nap,” she said. “We went inside to try and coax him out so that Harriet and CC could feed him some apple, but he was obviously a sleepy bear having played all morning with his friends, and refused to budge.”
Animals Asia’s Director of External Affairs, China, Toby Zhang, said CC and Harriet Tung were among a growing number of influential Chinese business and cultural leaders to call for an end to bile farming. “This industry is not only unimaginably cruel – it is damaging our country’s image,” Mr Zhang said.
Bear farming is still legal in China, however no new licences are issued when farms close. In 2000, Animals Asia signed an agreement with the CWCA and Sichuan Forestry to rescue 500 bears from the worst farms and to work towards ending the industry. To date, Animals Asia has rescued 266 bears from farms in China and 52 bears in Vietnam. Those that survive, live out their lives at our sanctuaries.