years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Scientists have identified numerous moon bear sub-species in
Japan, China, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Mongolia,
Vietnam, Bhutan, Laos, Taiwan, Russia, Iran, India and Pakistan.
Moon bears are one of the eight bear species in the world and are listed
under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES) in Appendix I – the most critical category of endangerment.
This listing means that no international trade in either live moon
bears, or any of their parts is allowed (except under very special
Population figures for the moon bears in China are causing concern, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to as low as 16,000. Some estimates
put the total Asia-wide population at only 16,000.
Very little research has been conducted on moon bear reproduction,
but it is believed that they generally mate from April to June, but
again this can vary depending on range. Breeding tends to start at
around 3-4 years of age.
The exact gestation period is unknown because of "delayed implantation"
– after fertilisation, the egg can go into stasis for several months
before implanting at a more optimum time. This ensures the cubs are
born in the spring when there is a ready supply of food for the mother,
which is essential to milk production. (Delayed implantation is wide-spread
in many mammals.)
Habitat loss and fragmentation (which results in isolated populations
more vulnerable to extinction) and the commercialisation of bear parts
and bile juice for traditional medicine, are the major threats to
the long-term survival of moon bears.
Moon bears, Malayan sun bears, brown bears, American black bears,
sloth bears, spectacled bears and polar bears have all been used in
the medicine trade. All except the panda have seen their numbers impacted by the trade.
As the most bipedal of all the bear species, the ease with which
moon bears stand on their hind legs is a characteristic often cruelly
exploited for entertainment, such as dancing bears in India, fighting
bears in Pakistan and circus bears in Vietnam, China and other parts