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).
9 February 2010: Staff from Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue Centre took to the streets of Chengdu, China this week to encourage pharmacies to dispense with their bile products and join us in a pledge to never supply products containing bile in the future.
More than 30 shops from four popular Chinese pharmacy chains became the first retailers to join Animals Asia’s new campaign to end the use of bear bile products in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Thirty-three drug stores in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, now have their doors and counters emblazoned with stickers proclaiming loud and clear: “We don’t sell bear parts”. These chains sell both Chinese and Western medicine, and this is where bear bile is most commonly sold, rather than in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shops.
The Animals Asia team visited the chain-shops – Furong, Chengdu Super, Dahua and Guangpeng Pharmacies – handing out stickers and buying up any leftover bear bile in stock.
Animals Asia team and volunteers take to the streets of Chengdu.
The bile and bile products were collected together and publicly burnt on the streets outside the shops – attracting much attention and support from passers-by
This sticker crusade is the latest move in our ongoing “Healing without Harm” campaign, and was launched on 9 February because this is the anniversary of the death of Andrew, the very first moon bear to arrive at our rescue centre, back in 2000.
Watch footage of the campaign - Chinese language report
Animals Asia Founder, Jill Robinson explains:
“When Andrew died from chronic liver cancer in 2006, we vowed his death would not be in vain. This gentle, forgiving bear was chosen as the face of our campaign as he is the perfect symbol of his majestic species and a tragic reminder of all that is wrong with the bile industry.
Many pharmacies are unaware they are selling endangered wildlife products. These 33 shops are setting a great example for the rest of the trade. By refusing to sell bear parts, these pharmacists are preserving the very essence of TCM – healing through harmony with nature. They are also helping to preserve the beauty of these highly endangered bears for the next generation.”
Animals Asia’s Director of External Affairs, Toby Zhang, said one of the outlets from the Dahua Pharmacy chain had agreed to display two jars, one containing a healthy moon bear’s liver, the other a diseased liver from a bear subjected to bile extraction.
“We want people to see for themselves the damage caused by the bile milking process. If they understand just how sick the bears on farms are, surely they’ll think twice about consuming bile extracted from them,” Toby said.
Almost 30 per cent of rescued free-drip bears have abdominal abscesses and most have pus-infected bile. Pathologists, who have examined the gall bladders of bears rescued from farms, have warned against consuming bile from farmed bears.
“The only reason many of the bears on farms are alive today and their ravaged gall bladders are still producing bile is that they are being pumped full of antibiotics. Some even have advanced liver cancer, and still they are kept alive so the farmers can drain the last drops of bile,” said Toby. “This is the bile that is given to people who are ill.”
Jill, who is a Council Member of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) Herbal Committee, said she hoped to see many more TCM pharmacies and practitioners throughout China joining the campaign soon. “Fifty-four substitutes for bear bile are listed in the Chinese pharmacopeia and there are many synthetic alternatives as well, so there is simply no need for anyone to consume bear bile today.”
Jill talks to the media about the campaign - English language with Chinese translation
Education Director Rainbow, and Jill empty the stores of bile and bile products.
Each store proudly displays its commitment with door stickers and posters inside.
Drug store operator Cui Ying, with Huang Xinhui and Chen Bo publicly show their support.
Preparing to burn: the stores were happy for the products to be destroyed right outside on the street.
Jill and Rainbow add a cage to the flames, a symbol of the suffering the bears endure.
Volunteers display stickers and posters distributed to the participating drug stores.