Bear bile industry

Rows of caged bears in an Asian bear farm, kept for their bile

There are many thousands of bears being held captive in the bile industry across East and South East Asia, suffering desperately cruel conditions, right now.

They are confined so bile can be extracted from their gall bladders and sold for use in some Traditional Asian Medicine.

The inhumane methods used to extract bile causes severe pain and trauma to the bears, who occupy tiny cages. Their suffering is intense. See inside the bear farms>>

WSPA believes bear farming is cruel, unnecessary and must end. Increasing numbers of Traditional Asian Medicine practitioners agree, and are turning to herbal and synthetic alternatives.

The threat to wild bears

A bear caged for its bile in an Asian bear farm

A bear caged for its bile in an Asian bear farm

© WSPA

Bear farmers sometimes argue that by supplying the demand for bear bile their industry protects wild bears.

But WSPA investigations show that in some countries poachers are selling live bears to farms, and providing gall bladders and bear bile from farms for illegal exportation.

Bear farming is a threat to vulnerable wild bear populations, especially in south-east Asia. 

What is WSPA doing?

WSPA is working to protect wild bears and end bear farming, by:

  • Working in partnership with Asian governments – using research, education and diplomacy to work for an end bear farming.

  • Calling for an end to the illegal trade in bear products. The WSPA bear proteins detection kit allows customs officials to stop illegal imports of bear bile and body parts.

  • Working with practitioners and consumers of Traditional Asian Medicine to promote the alternatives to bear bile.

Our approach is working. In 2005 the Vietnamese government committed to phase out bear farms after reaching a Memorandum of Understanding with WSPA. New regulations, alongside WSPA’s programme to microchip bears, help to prevent new bears suffering this cruel practice.

But there is so much more to do.

Help end bear farming in Asia

If you use Traditional Asian Medicine, make sure your practitioner does not use bear bile in any of their treatments. Raising awareness and encouraging the use of alternatives will help protect bears from this cruel industry.

A donation to WSPA will support our work to promote animal welfare worldwide.


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