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Encyclopedia > Bile bear
A bile bear in Huizhou Farm, Vietnam. This bear has since been rescued and lives in a sanctuary in South China. The photograph was taken by the Asian Animal Protection Network.
A bile bear in Huizhou Farm, Vietnam. This bear has since been rescued and lives in a sanctuary in South China. The photograph was taken by the Asian Animal Protection Network.

A bile bear or battery bear is the term used for Asiatic black bears kept in captivity in Vietnam and China so that bile may be extracted from them for sale as a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The bears are also known as moon bears because of the cream-colored crescent moon shape on their chests. [1] Binomial name Ursus thibetanus,or Selenarctos thibetanus G. Cuvier, 1823. ... Bile (or gall) is a bitter, greenish-yellow alkaline fluid secreted by the liver of most vertebrates. ... TCM shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. ...

There are estimated to be around 4,000 bile bears in Vietnam, where their bile can sell for 100,000 dong a millilitre (with 37,500 dong a week regarded as the poverty line for an urban resident), and around 9,000 bile bears in China. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) conducted a study in 1999 and 2000, and estimates that there are 247 bile-bear farms in that China, holding 7,002 bears, [2] though the Chinese government has called the figures "pure speculation." [3] This article is about a unit of currency. ...

The monetary value of the bile comes from the traditional prescription of bear bile by doctors practising traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Bear bile contains ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), which is believed to reduce fever, protect the liver, improve eyesight, break down gallstones, and act as an anti-inflammatory. The high demand for the bile has led to the introduction of intensive farming of bears. Because only minute amounts are used in TCM, a total of 500 kg of bear bile is used by practioners every year, but according to WSPA more than 7,000 kg is being produced, most of it being used in wines, eyedrops, and general tonics. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ...

The bears live in cages no bigger than themselves for ease of "milking." Bile is extracted through a cut made in the bear's abdomen and into the gall bladder, where bile is stored afer being secreted by the liver via the hepatic duct. A tube is inserted into this opening to tap the bile, or a steel stick is forced into the gall bladder with the bile then running down it into a basin. Between 10 and 20 ml of bile is tapped from each bear twice daily. The WSPA reports that, during milking, investigators saw bears moaning, banging their heads against their cages, and chewing their own paws. The mortality rate is between 50 and 60 per cent. [4] When the bears stop producing bile after a few years, they are moved to another cage, where they are either left to starve to death, or are killed for their paws and gall bladders. Bear paws are considered a delicacy. The gallbladder (or cholecyst) is a pear-shaped organ that stores bile (or gall) until the body needs it for digestion. ... The liver is one of the largest internal organs of the human body. ... ...

In January 2006, the Chinese State Council Information Office held a press conference at the Chinese embassy in the London, during which the government said that it was enforcing a "Technical Code of Practice for Raising Black Bears," "which requires hygienic, painless practice for gall extraction and make strict regulations on the techniques and conditions for nursing, exercise and propagation." [5] A diplomatic mission is a group of people from one nation state present in another nation state to represent the sending state in the receiving State. ...


  • "Torment of the moon bears" by Pat Sinclair, The Guardian, October 11, 2005, retrieved October 18, 2005
  • Chinese government attends official opening of Animals Asia's Moon bear rescue centre ..." Animals Asia Foundation press release, December 2002, retrieved October 18, 2005
  • "The Trade in Bear Bile", World Society for the Protection of Animals, 2000, retrieved October 18, 2005
  • Press Conference on Animal Welfare, Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland, January 12, 2006

Further reading

  • McLaughlin, Kathleen E. "Freeing China's Caged Bile Bears", San Francisco Chronicle, April 25, 2005

  Results from FactBites:
Bear - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1932 words)
Bears live in a variety of habitats from the tropics to the Arctic and from forests to snowfields.
Although bears are often described as having evolved from a dog-like ancestor, their closest living relatives are the pinnipeds (walruses, seals, and sea lions).
A bear also features prominently in the legend of Saint Romedius, who is also said to have tamed one of these animals and had the same bear carry him from his hermitage in the mountains to the city of Trento.
The Unbearable Trade in Bear Parts and Bile (1935 words)
Bile is excreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, from which it is released into the stomach to help digest food.
Bear bile is marketed as a treatment for a staggering array of human maladies, from cardiac illness to impotence to sore eyes.
While 500 bears may represent a small percentage of the total number of bears on farms in China, the Moon Bear Rescue Center is a focal point for education and awareness on the issue, attracting a tremendous amount of local and international interest.
  More results at FactBites »



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