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).
While bear bile farming is legal in China, using metal jackets, which crush the bear’s torso, and catheters to drain bile are against regulations. The only procedure permitted is the so-called humane, “free-drip” method whereby a permanent hole (fistula) is cut into the bear’s abdomen for bile to leak through continually.
On this farm in Weihai, Shandong both of these regulations were blatantly ignored and we believe that eight of the bears had been subjected to the additional anguish of wearing jackets for many, many years.
These jackets are designed to restrain the bears, with sharp metal spikes poking into their necks to stop them bending their heads, and straps and strips of metal restricting their limb movements. They also have a permanent catheter running from the bear’s abdomen to a pouch under the jacket to make bile removal easy for the farmer. These contraptions are no better than medieval torture devices and inflict enormous pain and permanent damage on the bear.
To attach a permanent catheter to the bear’s gall bladder, metal pins, hooks, disks and any and all makeshift devices are crudely inserted right into the gall bladder to hold the catheter in place. This is almost always done without the benefit of professional surgery and usually by unqualified people in conditions ripe for infection.
This crude and dangerous practice resulted in emergency surgery for Oliver, one of the brown bears rescued on 19 April, in the back of the rescue truck as the catheter had simply been ripped from his stomach, setting off a near-lethal infection. His gall bladder was removed, revealing a double metal ring with hook attached completely embedded in the organ’s tissue.
Eight of the ten bears rescued had been wearing these barbaric metal jackets up until a short time before our arrival to rescue them. Animals Asia’s Vet Director Heather, commented: “We believe the bile farmers removed the bears’ metal jackets and ripped out their catheters just hours before our arrival to collect them, causing excruciating pain. But it is clear from the scars on the bears' bodies that they had been wearing them for a very long time."
This is the largest single group of bears with jackets that we have rescued.
Empty cages and abandoned metal jackets tell a harrowing story of torture.
The jackets wrap tightly around the bear's torso, restricting movement.