With a national poll showing that nearly 90% of South Koreans oppose bear farming and a new academic report detailing how the country can exit this cruel industry, the time has never been more right for South Korea to come good on its promise to end the bear farming and bile industry.
This week, South Korea is hosting the IUCN World Conservation Congress. WSPA and local partners Green Korea United are urging the government to seize this chance to demonstrate global leadership, by:
- announcing an end to farming within their own borders
- supporting an international agreement to end bear farming globally.
A cruelty that cannot continue
The horrors of the bear bile industry – where bears are slaughtered at age 10 and their gall bladders harvested for use in commercial products – are well documented. Now, sadly, while South Korean bear farms are thought to hold 1,000 Asiatic Black bears, only 20 are estimated to survive in the wild.
‘Farming’ these wild animals in cages so small they cannot turn around, for a lifetime, has been rejected by the South Korean public and – according to the commitment they made to end farming and the bile industry earlier this year – by the government too.
WSPA bear farming expert Chris Gee states: “The government has no excuse. Research conducted last year revealed that while just 1.2 per cent of South Koreans say they have purchased bear bile, 89.5 per cent are against the farming and slaughtering of bears for bile.”
Time for action
With the delivery of an independent report from Chungnam University that details how the government can end the bear bile industry, pressure is building on Environment Minister Yoo Young Sook to act quickly.
The end of the bile industry is long overdue; the immense distress that the bears suffer is ongoing. Now WSPA wants to see the following actions from South Korea to protect bears, without delay:
- an immediate ban on the breeding of bears on farms
- the announcement of the end of the bear bile industry
- allocation of budget to accelerate the end of the industry and stop the suffering of bears
- immediate strengthening of enforcement of CITES requirements to prohibit the trade and sale of illegal bear products.