November 20, 2006

Moon Bear rescue. Moon bears, aka Asiatic Black Bears, are held in truly appalling conditions in 'farms' in China for their bile, used in traditional medicine.

Jill Robinson leads a campaign to end the trade, attracting support from Steve Irwin and many others. A couple years ago it seemed the Chinese Government had agreed to end this awful practice. But some said the Chinese were merely closing a few smaller farms in order to persuade the international community that controls could be relaxed, when the trade would resume on a grander scale than ever. A resolution passed by the European Parliament subsequently pushed the Chinese government into clarifying its position. New methods of extracting bile, it said were not inhumane: the bile was an indispensable ingredient for Chinese medicine and existence of the farms protected wild bears: consequently it would not suppress the trade. The struggle continues.

  • Thanks for the quality post. From the impactpress article: One quiet and less agitated bear stretched her paw towards Robinson. Without thinking, she reached out and held it for several moments, feeling the large paw rhythmically squeezing her fingers. "Had I been thinking clearly and known what I now know about bears, I never would have done such a thing," said Robinson, describing the size and strength of the paws as well as the saber-sharp claws. "They can be very aggressive and unpredictable. I truly believe this bear reached out to me for a purpose. It's a moment I will never forget." Wow. Perhaps this wouldn't be such a bad idea?
  • Great (very very sad) post, Darling!
  • Rescued in January 2004 from Mr. Piao’s farm in Tianjin, where they were agonisingly milked for 9 years using the “metal jacket” method of bile extraction, today Emma and Caesar are magnificent bears who have forgotten their terrible past. During his visit Mr. Piao’s eyes filled with tears when he saw them enjoying their new freedom and the elderly farmer thanked us for looking after his bears so well. As he waved a last goodbye to Emma and Caesar he even promised to try and persuade his niece to close her farm down too! I don't understand this man. He seems to be a caring individual, so how could he not have realized that what he was doing was insanely cruel? Thanks for this post, darling! I had no idea such a thing existed.
  • Not heard them referred to as moon bears before; they're more widely known as sun bears in English.
  • The moon bear is not the same species as the sun bear. Sun bears are smaller, and display an orange-yellow marking in the shape of a horseshoe on their chests. Moon bears are larger, and display a white-cream "V" marking on their chests. However, both seem victim to such practices.
  • Thanks, smt, I didn't realize they were two distinct species.
  • This is sad. The Chinese practice some wacked out stuff when it comes to medicine and animals.
  • Revenge.
  • God that shit makes me really angry. Great story though. I will stop now before descending into a Kramer-like rant against the Chinese...
  • Good post, darling Chinese medicine has been in the UK news in the last couple of days, because of the use of endangered animal parts. I've seen a few Chinese medicine shops open up in South London, with the usual claims about curing exzema, depression, loneliness. The jars of dried stuff in the windows have often made me think. Disgusting.
  • There's a number of animal welfare organisations engaging with major traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) bodies on issues like this, including researching and promoting alternatives to animal derivatives for use in TCM, which strikes me as the the most fruitful angle of attack in the near term. This is one of those situations where I am happy to believe that the central government here would like to see an end to the practice, but it can't enforce the controls at local level (partly, of course, because it's not a priority for them). One of the longest running threads on one of the most popular message boards here is the mother of all arguments about whether TCM is in fact 'fake science'. That's also a healthy debate to be having, as there is an enormous amount of rubbish promoted under the banner of TCM. The domestic animal welfare lobby is also gathering strength. there was a rare public demo in Beijing just a week or so ago protesting against the recent punitive laws on keeping dogs in the city, so you can also look to a lot more opposition to practices like this from within China in the future, I believe.
  • Of course its fucking fake science! Tiger cock? Bear bile? FFS!!!!!!! GGGaaarrghh! Now acupuncture and some of that herbal malarky, fair do's, I'm not down on all trad medicine, but really - China gave us gunpowder, paper, those cool ink blocks, and yet they still want to rub tiger cock in their eyes (or whatever). I'm not trying to offend anyone. Bullfighting and fox hunting fuck me off just as much, y'know? Sorry - trying not to rant...
  • I'd basically agree kit, but as you can imagine, after so many millennia of clinical practice here, people are quite attached to it, and as you say, the flagrant bullshit is mixed in with pretty effective herbal remedies. Things being what they are, I reckon the best way to stop it will be to cut off the demand, same as for the dodgy practice of eating all sorts of rare wildlife. That's most likely to happen when Chinese people themselves can be convinced it's useless and horrible, and they're most likely to come to that conclusion through internal social change. International campaigns and government action can definitely contribute though. I liked Jackie Chan even more when he did a spot for WildAid's Asian Conservation Awareness Program telling people to stop using tiger bones.