Inside the bear farms

Rows of caged bears in an Asian bear farm, kept for their bile

Over 12,000 bears are captive in bear farms in Asia. Most are held in cages the size of a telephone booth, in which they are unable to stand and can only turn around with difficulty.

The bears in these farms are visibly in severe distress. They are often hurt or scarred from repeatedly rubbing or hitting themselves against the bars of their tiny enclosures.

Farmers prevent bears from hibernating – the cage floors are iron bars to stop the bears lying on firm ground.

Painful surgery

Bear bile can be accessed in a number of inhumane ways. All are likely to be carried out by untrained farm workers, with no veterinary experience.

Depending on the region, farms will use one of three methods: 

  • A tube leading into the gall bladder is created, allowing bile to be extracted. To stop the tube closing up, the abdominal wound is reopened up to three times a day. 

  • Ultrasound equipment is used to locate the gall bladder, before a syringe is inserted deep into the bear’s body to extract the bile.

  • Bears are caged, left to reach a certain age and then killed. The bile is extracted once the bear is dead.

Lifelong suffering

A caged, farmed bear with bile extraction wound

If those bears subjected to operations do not die during or after the first procedure, they suffer from serious health problems.

Infections to the open wounds, tumors, internal abscesses, gallstones, and other related illnesses are common. It is a life of unremitting pain and distress.

Bears may stop producing bile after only a few years. They are then left to die or are killed for their paws or gall bladder.

Protect the bears

You can help WSPA end bear farming:

  • Make a donation to support WSPA's work to end bear farming.

  • Do not use products which contain bile. Spread the word about alternatives.

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