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).
Harriet with her husband, CC Tung, and granddaughter Kate. Harriet’s letter was published in the South China Morning Post.
We are thrilled to have the support of Harriet Tung, wife of shipping magnate Tung Chee Chen and sister-in-law of Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive, Tung Chee Hwa.
Harriet was so moved by the suffering of the moon bears after watching Libby Halliday’s documentary, “Moon Bears: Journey to Freedom”, that she offered to support Animals Asia in our efforts to end bear bile farming in China.
Harriet, who is well-known on Hong Kong’s social scene, contributes to various not-for-profit organisations. She has familiarised herself with the unhealthy aspects of bear bile farming and wrote to the South China Morning Post outlining her concerns, not only for those who consume such contaminated bile but also for the tortured lives of the bears so violently exploited on the farms. The letter (posted below) was published on 13 October 2008.
Harriet has also expressed her concerns to government organisations in China. She understands many locals earn a living through bear farming, but hopes an alternative community-based sustainable project can be proposed which will eliminate this terrible practice. She hopes that by educating the public the demand for bear bile will cease.
Harriet has accepted our invitation to visit the Moon Bear Rescue Centre and we hope to welcome her on site soon.
Thank you, Harriet, for speaking out. People like you will ensure that our children and grandchildren will continue to see, love and respect animals in their rightful place in the wild. We will work together to stop the cruel exploitation of animals who cannot speak for themselves.
Why torture bears to extract a product that is tainted?
In light of the tainted milk scandal unfolding on the mainland, the authorities should also look closely at other consumer products that are tainted by their extraction methods.
I have been following the plight of the moon bears on the mainland. These bears are kept alive in captivity while their bile is extracted causing them great pain and distress. There are many graphic photos that show the cruel extraction methods.
The prized ingredient in bear bile is ursodeoxycholic acid, which is used by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners for a myriad of complaints from hangovers to haemorrhoids. However, this acid can easily be synthesised under laboratory conditions creating a product that will be pure, clean and reliable.
Bear bile extracted from farmed bears contains faeces, urine, blood and pus. Moreover, bears tapped for their bile develop liver cancers and diseased gall bladders at a very early age and, as a consequence, they produce unhealthy-looking bile.
Common sense would dictate that a healthy product cannot be obtained from diseased animals. Moreover, the contaminants in the bile cannot be removed by the present process of baking this bile into a powder which is not refined.
I would urge the mainland authorities to stop the use of contaminated bear bile. They should outlaw this unnecessary, cruelly obtained product which growing numbers of medical experts deem unfit for human consumption.