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27 October 2005
Bile farm bear rescues in China

My dear friend Kati has been working nobly in Chengdu, south central China, and in other far-flung places, for the past few years to improve the lives of bears who've been treated badly, horribly by humans. It sounds like most of the bears she and her colleagues rescue, repair and rehabilitate have been removed from bile 'farms.' Bear bile is used in traditional Asian medicine and so is a lucrative market. The farms, however, harvest bear bile in a particularly cruel manner. Farm bears are fitted with catheters to drain bile from their gall bladders while they're confined in tiny cages to prevent them from reaching around to tear the irritating catheters out. It's not a pretty sight. The catheters become rusted, infected, the bears are chronically in pain and sick. They die. Bear bile farms house from tens to hundreds of bears.

Here's an excerpt from one 2005 rescue report:

On a freezing cold day in January, another 46 farmed bears arrived at our Rescue Centre in desperate condition... crammed in tiny, decrepit cages they stared out in terror from their prisons as our expert team swiftly unloaded them and began to assess their pain-wracked bodies. With each new group of bears that arrives, we never cease to be shocked by their suffering and this group was no different: emergency health checks revealed missing limbs, crushed paws and bodies rubbed raw by the unrelenting cage bars; whilst surgery to repair their battered bodies, showed that many of the bears had received multiple surgeries on the farms to convert their gall bladders from one excruciating method of bile extraction to another.

Kati's working on behalf of the Animals Asia Foundation headquartered in Hong Kong. That's Kati above, in the red sleeves. She's also in these pictured here, directing the rescue of a couple of bears from a pit. Her email this week says she's off to Bangkok and Borneo over the next few weeks in pursuit of bear improvements. I think this must be the perfect job for someone so intently desiring to make a huge difference to animals in this world. Thanks Kati. Does your standard uniform include a cape? It should.

Visit the Animals Asia Foundation website - they do a lot more than rescue bears.

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