Bear bile has been used in Traditional Asian Medicine for hundreds of year. It is believed that the bile fluid from moon bears and sun bears is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can be used for a number of applications including a cure for hangovers, acne and even dental ailments. Sadly, the popularity of bear bile has lead to the industrialization of bile farming across Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and China. In bile farms, hundreds of bears are kept in “crush” cages, tiny enclosures that limit any activity, and have their bile fluids periodically drained – a process that is as painful as it sounds.
Technically bear bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992, but due to limited enforcement and legal loopholes have kept the practice going on the black market. However, thanks to the continued partnership of Vietnam’s Traditional Medicine Association and Animals Asia, the last ten years has seen the illegal medicinal use of bear bile decline in the country.
Herbal and synthetic alternatives to bear bile have become readily available. Additionally, a positive shift in public and doctor awareness has led to an even greater reduction in demand, so much in fact that both organizations are confident that with their sustained efforts, that the entire cruel industry can be phased out entirely in a matter of five years.
“Animals Asia believes 2020 represents a realistic timeline,” Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said in a statement, “The Traditional Medicine Association does too. We are seeing numbers of caged bears plummeting because the market for bear bile is disappearing. Piece by piece this jigsaw is coming together. We have seen in Quang Ninh what can be achieved with government and local authority support. We’ll now be lobbying government to build on that success, and part of that is committing to the 2020 deadline. The campaign to end this cruelty is gathering momentum – we want to draw a line for when bear bile farming ends.”
The announcement that Vietnam’s Traditional Medicine Association will phase out bear bile by 2020 comes after a long and hard struggle, but knowing that a day where Asia’s bears are free from the threat of the bile industry is within sight makes it all worth it!
A big thank you to Animals Asia for all your hard work and commitment! Hopefully, Vietnam is the first of many more countries to phase out this cruel practice for good!
Image source: vincecentral/Flickr