Bear bile might not be widely known in the U.S., but in parts of Asia, it is incredibly popular in Traditional Medicine. Rumored to cure everything from a hangover to dental ailments and serious illnesses, bear bile is … well, exactly what it sounds like, fluid drained from the gallbladder of bears. Sun and Moon bears are the most common targets of this industry, and sadly, they suffer immensely for its production.
Bears on bile farms typically live in “crush” cages where they are enclosed so tightly they can barely move. As if living in such small confines isn’t bad enough, they have to endure the daily pain of having their bile fluid drained with catheters.
There are currently over 12,000 bears living in bile farms across China and Vietnam, and the most tragic part about this is there are readily available synthetic and herbal medicines that can replace bear bile. In fact, many Traditional Medicine practitioners agree “nobody’s health will suffer due to a lack of bear bile.”
Luckily, there are many kind individuals working to put an end to this industry and rescue bears from this sad existence. Quantock is one of the fortunate bears who was saved from a bile farm thanks to the work of Animals Asia.
When rescuers found Quantock in 2003, he was so frustrated with being confined in a small cage, he had rubbed the fur off of his face.
Those days were over once Animals Asia stepped in. Quantock got his first taste of honey and with that – something much more sweet … his freedom.
Like all the bears that come to Animals Asia’s rescue center, Quantock underwent a period of rehabilitation. Gradually, he moved from a small enclosure to a larger one.
Once his wounds healed, he finally got to interact with the other bears. Animals Asia writes, “Months after that rescue, he was ready to go out into the sunshine and make new friends. Friends he has never stopped playing with because Quantock loves, more than anything, to wrestle.”
Nearly 12 years after his life in a cage ended, Quantock still bears the scar of his past on his forehead – but aside from that, life in a bile farm is far, far behind him.
Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson says, “The way he looks is a permanent reminder of what he went through, but it’s the only reminder – and every time we see him in the enclosure, we tell him how wonderfully handsome he is. He’s been so strong and brave in shaking off his past – and loves his life today.”
All image source: Animals Asia