Animals Asia marks a decade of rescuing moon bears from bear bile farms
Animals Asia Foundation today celebrates a decade of rescuing endangered* Asiatic black bears (known as moon bears because of the yellow crescent of fur on their chests) from bear bile farms in China.
Ten years ago, Jill Robinson MBE, Founder and CEO of Animals Asia Foundation signed a landmark agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association and Sichuan Forestry to rescue 500 bears from farms and to work towards ending the bear bile industry. The first 63 bears were rescued in December 2000.
Over the last decade Animals Asia’s efforts have resulted in 20 out of 31 of China’s provinces committing to being bear farm free. Since the late 1990's the organisation’s work has also expanded to Vietnam where they signed a formal agreement with the government to rescue 200 farmed bears. Although bear farming there is illegal, 4000 bears still remain caged on farms - many illegally milked for their bile.
The organisation’s work has also included investigations into the number of bears losing their lives to liver tumours, with pathologists now worried about the potential connection to contaminated bile. Moreover, doctors in Vietnam are now going public in revealing illnesses and even fatalities resulting from the consumption of bear bile.
An animal welfare movement has emerged in Asia over the last ten years, in which Animals Asia has played a key role, offering the tools and capacity for change.
Ms Robinson comments:
“The last few years have been an exciting and eventful time for Animals Asia and our efforts over the last decade are finally paying off. Twenty five years ago, there was only one animal-welfare group in China and now there are more than 50. There have been positive developments in government relations, an explosion of media coverage on sensitive issues, support from the traditional medicine community to "heal without harm" and a growing trend of brave activists fighting for the rights of animals.”
An event titled “Bears on film” being held this evening at the British Consulate General in Hong Kong will see the premiere of a short film “Moon Bear Rescue: A decade on….”, which looks at the progress made over the last ten years and highlights the challenges that still remain. The video will be available on Youtube from tomorrow.
Movie star and singer Karen Mok will speak at the event and introduce a powerful one-minute film titled “Stain” in which she stars. The film, which highlights the cruelty of bear bile farming, will be shown frequently on National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet amongst other regional networks.
Karen has served as an ambassador for Animals Asia since 2004 and to mark her unstinting support, she today becomes our Patron.
As many as 15,000 bears across Asia are farmed for their bile, which is used in traditional Asian medicine despite the availability of over 54 inexpensive herbal and synthetic alternatives. In China, the bears can spend more than 30 years in tiny cages and are milked regularly for their bile through crude catheters or permanently open holes in their abdomens. According to official figures there are more than 7,000 bears on farms, but Animals Asia fears the actual figure could be higher than 10,000.