In parts of Asia, bears are farmed for their bile in appallingly cruel conditions. Once extracted, the bile is used in some Traditional Asian Medicines.
WSPA is working with the Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) community to end the use of bear bile by promoting effective herbal and synthetic alternatives.
The bile trade
Bears are the only mammals to produce large amounts of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), the active ingredient in bear bile.
Bear farms emerged in the 1980s as a cost effective way to meet the demand for UDCA, which has been used to treat kidney problems and stomach and digestive disorders.
More recently bear bile has been added to non-medicinal products such as wine and shampoo.
Since the 1980s, the number of bears farmed in Asia has increased. Official figures from the region show around 12,000 bears are held in farms.
The conditions are enclosed, barren and lead to physical and mental illness. Inside the bear farms >>
Effective synthetic and herbal alternatives to bear bile are both widely available and affordable.
WSPA is working with the TAM community to educate consumers that the extraction and use of bear bile is inherently cruel.
More than 30 TAM groups have spoken out against bear bile. Their concern for animal welfare has led them to seek alternatives.
You can help WSPA consign bear farming and the use of bear bile to history.
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.