We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.
Eco Warriors Undercover: Bear bile farming
Milking and selling the bile is not the farmers' only source of profit from the bears. Some farmers amputate one or two paws from live bears to sell to restaurants. When bears are no longer able to secrete bile, they are left to die from sickness or starvation. Bears perceive terror and despair and feel pain the same as we do, and they endure this torture for up to 25 years. Try to imagine it.
Many of the bears in bile farms are captured illegally in the wild as cubs. Poachers wait until the mother leaves the den in search of food to capture new-born cubs. Sometimes she is killed to get the babies. Other times cubs are born in captivity from pregnant bears that were poached from the wild. In either case, the bear cubs rarely survive the ordeal. Any surviving cubs are removed from their mothers too early and put into cages, where they sometimes grow into the bars as their bodies mature.
The bears show their distress and suffering by banging their heads against the cage bars, gnawing on the bars, and at times tearing the flesh from their paws and arms in a futile attempt to deflect their thoughts from the main source of pain. The sores bleed, resulting in further serious infection. The bears are usually milked twice a day, before feeding, when more bile is produced. They moan and writhe in pain and clutch their stomachs as the bile drains from their bodies. Sometimes the bears try to pull out the catheters. Those that do, are immobilized in an iron corset. Under-nourished and highly stressed from horrific pain and unnatural confinement, the bears lie in agony, in their own filth.
This is Willow. He was 10 years old when he arrived at the Animals Asia sanctuary in 2004. He died last year from a massive liver tumor -- a result of his treatment on the bile farm.
Workers extract bear bile from the gall bladder of a bear in Myanmar.