Animals Asia (China)

Conservation in 
Asia

About the Organization

Asiatic black bears, known as “moon bears” because of the beautiful golden crescent on their chest, have long been the victims of the Asian trade in bear bile and body parts, which are used in traditional medicine. On bile farms, bears are imprisoned in tiny metal cages no bigger than their bodies, where they die a slow, agonizing death as the bile from their gall bladders is extracted.

Animals Asia is devoted to ending this barbaric practice and improving the welfare of animals in China and Vietnam. They promote compassion and respect for all animals and work to bring about long-term change by working with — not against — people to find sustainable solutions for all parties. Animals Asia has rescued nearly 600 bears to date, caring for them at its award-winning bear sanctuaries.

The Conservation Challenge

More than 10,000 bears — mainly moon bears, but also sun bears and brown bears — are kept on bile farms in China, and around 1,000 in Vietnam. The bears are milked regularly for their bile through rusting metal catheters implanted in their gall bladders, or by the “free-dipping” technique, using open holes in their abdomens. These painful, invasive techniques cause massive infection in the bears. Most farmed bears are starved, dehydrated and suffer from multiple diseases and malignant tumors that ultimately kill them, but many must live this way for 20 to 30 years. This cruel practice continues despite the availability of a large number of effective and affordable herbal and synthetic alternatives to bear bile.

Conservation Approach

Bear Rescue and Sanctuary

Animals Asia operates bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam, rescue centers which provide the bears with comfortable dens and semi-natural enclosures where they are able to recover in safety and spend the remaining years of their lives in the company of other bears. During their rehabilitation, the bears’ behavior and well-being are closely monitored through regular health checks and daily observations. This not only ensures that the bears receive the best care possible, but also enables the project’s staff to gather vital scientific evidence on the physical and psychological effects of bile extraction. Reports and papers published by Animals Asia have helped to raise the profile of the moon bear within the scientific community and to increase public awareness of the terrible cruelty involved in the bear bile farming industry. The sanctuaries also provide direct employment for over 250 Chinese and Vietnamese people in areas such as bear care, horticulture, food preparation and security.

Ending Bear Bile Farming

Animals Asia works to end the practice of bear bile farming in a number of ways:

Oakland Zoo Takes Action

The Oakland Zoo has fully embraced the efforts of Animals Asia and their work. We support the project through:

You Can Take Action Too

Resources