Tens of thousands speak out against cruel bear bile industry but black market trade continues
TORONTO, Aug. 27, 2013
TORONTO, Aug. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Recently, there has been an outcry from
concerned citizens across Vietnam, calling for an end to the cruel and
illegal bear bile industry. 110,000 Vietnamese citizens pledged to
never use bear bile products. But despite growing public support for
better bear welfare and the practice of extracting bile being made
illegal in 2005, an active black market trade still exists and
thousands of bears are still suffering.
Since the 1980s, bears have been kept in captivity in some Asian
countries (particularly Vietnam, Korea, China, Laos and Myanmar) in
order to extract their bile for sale in traditional medicines. Thought
by some to cure hangovers, help treat liver and heart disease and even
cancer, bear bile is now also added to non-medical products like energy
drinks, toothpaste and shampoo. Many cheaper and equally effective
herbal alternatives exist.
Conditions on these bear factory farms are brutal. The majority of
bears still kept in Vietnamese facilities are forced to live in tiny
cages - not much bigger than themselves. "They endure appalling
conditions and repeated extraction procedures, leaving them scarred
mentally and physically for the duration of their lives, which could be
up to 20 years", said Josey Kitson Executive Director of the World
Society for the Protection of Animals in Canada.
In 2005, WSPA was invited by the Vietnam Government to work on a strategy to phase
out the bear bile industry, which they had just made illegal. With
local partners Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) WSPA has also
supported grassroots public education initiatives and a wildlife crimes
hotline. As a result, the number of bears caught up in the bear bile
industry has declined by almost 50% (from 4,500 in 2005 to 2,300 in
These efforts have made a big impact for bears but many are still
suffering. On the ground investigations by WSPA show an illicit market
for bear bile persists. "Unfortunately today a black market still
exists for bear bile in Vietnam and despite being illegal, it isn't as
underground as you might think", said Luke Nicholson, WSPA Bears in the
Wild Project Manager based in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Conflicting legislation and inadequate policing and enforcement means a
black market can still thrive. Our priority now is to work within the
Vietnamese legal system to close loopholes and improve enforcement. We
want to amplify the voices of our local partners and end this trade for
good", said Nicholson.
"People in Vietnam are speaking out against one of the most severe forms
of animal cruelty in the world and we want to show them that the global
community is standing behind them in support", said Kitson. "WSPA has
made great strides to protect bears but more work needs to be done,"
she added. Canadians can get involved and find out ways support WSPA's
work to end the cruel bear bile industry at www.wspa.ca
About the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA): At the World Society for the Protection of Animals we have worked to
expose animal cruelty and prevent animal suffering for more than 30
years. Working with individuals, organizations and governments across
the globe, our campaign work ranges from putting animals at the heart
of farming to protecting animals in disasters. Consultative status
with the United Nations means we have a unique international platform
to prove that the lives of animals are inextricably linked to our own,
and now more than ever is the time to stop their suffering. For more
information, visit us at www.wspa.ca; follow us on Twitter or 'Like' us on Facebook.
SOURCE World Society for the Protection of Animals