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).
Animals Asia has campaigned for the past 11 years for an end to the farming of bears for their bile in South Korea. The extraction of bile from live bears was banned by the Korean Government in 1992, but bears over the age of 10 can be legally slaughtered and their gall bladders sold.
It is believed that Koreans form a large part of the bear bile consumer market and a lucrative black market trade exists between Korea and both China and Vietnam.
Animals Asia supports the work of Green Korea United (GKU), Moonbear.org and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in ending bear farming in South Korea. In recent months we welcomed GKU on a visit to our Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu to discuss the possible development of a sanctuary for bears in Korea as part of ongoing discussions to end bear farming.
We have also recently provided support to a WSPA and GKU submission to the South Korean government providing workable solutions to phase out bear farming and we are pleased to receive news of a bill which has now been submitted to the South Korean Parliament calling for an end to this industry.
Please see the information below provided by Lucie Evans from WSPA on this bill.
South Korean government to consider ending bear farming
Following the tabling of a bill on 15 September by National Assembly member Hong Heedeok, the South Korean Parliament began the process that could result in the phase out of South Korea’s bear farming industry.
Chris Gee, manager of WSPA’s programme to End Bear Farming said, ‘This is a historic opportunity for South Korea to adopt a policy to end bear farming. Since 2005 WSPA have worked in partnership with Green Korea United (GKU) to raise awareness of bears’ suffering, build public support, promote the alternatives to bear bile and lobby decision makers within South Korea. The world is willing South Korea to do the right thing by bringing this cruel and unnecessary industry to an end as soon as possible.’
The bill is now expected to be considered by the Environment and Labour Committee as well as other relevant Ministries. Subject to securing enough support, this process could see South Korea putting a policy in place to end bear farming by the end of 2010.
Bear farming is cruel. Over 1,400 bears are currently held on South Korean bear farms, in horrific captive conditions, to be slaughtered for their bile. Because the extraction of bile from live bears has been illegal in South Korea since the early 1990s, bears are instead raised to be slaughtered for their bile when they reach 10 years old. Under present South Korean law, this industry is still legal.
The captive conditions have a terrible impact on the physical and psychological wellbeing of the bears. WSPA staff have witnessed South Korean bears rocking and pacing in their small cages, and seen the severe wounds, sores and stress the caged conditions cause.
Bear farming is unnecessary. Academics, experts and Traditional Asian Medicine advocates in South Korea and around the world agree that there are many readily available herbal and synthetic alternatives to bear bile. Even South Korean bear farmers themselves are prepared to consider a phase out as they acknowledge their farms are losing money.
In 2006, the South Korean Ministry of Environment (MoE) informally requested WSPA and member society GKU to research workable ways to phase out the practice of bear farming. WSPA and GKU consulted with a range of stakeholders and experts, ensuring they examined the issue comprehensively. GKU has since been working closely with the government to refine the options open to them.
Thousands of South Koreans have joined GKU campaigns, and in the last four weeks over 85,000 WSPA supporters around the world have signed up to support an end to this industry.
As South Korea prepares to celebrate its Thanksgiving Day next week, we also give thanks to the South Korean government for tackling this issue head-on.