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).
Three bears wait to be offloaded. terrified and ill, but safe at last.
Jill with blind bear, Bluebelle, She is one of two blind bears to arrive.
We have rescued 12 more moon bears, bringing to 217 the total number of bears saved from a life of torture on cruel bile farms in China.
But two of the emaciated bears brought to our rescue centre in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, were in such poor condition that they did not even live past their emergency health-checks.
These two bears have not died in vain. They have left behind a legacy of vital information, which will bring this industry down.
I have seen a lot of cruelty over the years, but I was shocked by the condition of the 12 bears when they arrived at the sanctuary. All were in impossibly small cages, all skeletal, wounded in various ways, and terrified of what would happen in this next stage of their lives.
Two are blind, some missing limbs, some with shattered teeth, some with worn and scarred heads and bodies from bar-rubbing, and all out of their minds with fear. Most had open wounds in their abdomens from the free-drip method of bile-extraction, with some leaking bile and pus.
The latest group of tormented, disfigured bears provides further proof that the trade is as brutal as ever. We are still seeing young bears, with legs severed in leg-hold traps, that are clearly much younger than 17 years old – the cut-off point from when trapping bears in the wild was made illegal in China in 1989.
Rake-thin “Twiglet”, one of the two bears that died shortly after his arrival at the rescue centre, weighed just 40 per cent of what a healthy male moon bear should weigh.
We guess that, as often happens, because his free-drip wound had healed over, he had proved useless on the farm and the farmer had simply stopped feeding him, leaving him to starve to death. His death from a combination of heart and renal failure, and our old enemy – septicemia – would have been agonising in the last lonely weeks of his life.
“Message”, the other bear that died shortly after her rescue, succumbed to liver cancer as have 10 other rescued bears before her. Liver cancer is rare in bears that have not been tapped for their bile.
A port mortem by our Animals Asia vets revealed pus in her bile – and this is the bile that people are paying to consume. We can see what it is doing to the bears – what must it be doing to humans?