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).
Following an outcry from the general public at the cruelty involved, bear bile farming was banned by the Korean Government, which declared it illegal to extract bile from living bears in 1992. Regulations required all stainless steel catheters to be removed, but according to TRAFFIC EAST ASIA, breeding still continues on the farms and bears over the age of 10 can be legally slaughtered and their gall bladders sold.
The report from the 3rd International Symposium on the Trade in Bear Parts by TRAFFIC EAST ASIA (held in South Korea in 1999) announced that over 1,300 bears – predominantly North American black bears – still remain in limbo on 108 farms in South Korea and that many Korean farmers hope the trade will resume in the future.
Asiatic black bears (moon bears) were once abundant in Korea, but as a direct result of the huge demand for their gall bladders, they have been hunted almost to extinction. It is thought that there are fewer than 30 individuals left in the wild.
Koreans are some of the largest consumers of bear gall bladders, bear bile and bear bile products, and it is thought that a lucrative black market between Korea and China exists, particularly with the large bear farms in Jilin province near the border with North Korea.