ARM is in the process of planning a three month undercover operation in Hanoi, Vietnam to investigate the illegal bear bile farms. The expected outcome of this operation will result in the recovery and relocation of the endangered bears from a targeted underground farm, to a designated sanctuary who specialize in rehabilitating bile farm bears
Our investigations will expose the crimes and implement penalties for the cruelty served upon the bears, including the bear bile tours that take thousands of tourists each year to witness live viewings of extracting bile.
ARM will also meet with the Government officials of Vietnam and work to amend existing laws and implement penalties. This operation will stand to be ARM’s largest International investigation, outside of Mexico.
Bear bile harvesting is an ancient tradition in the Asian culture and has been used widely for medicinal purposes to cure many aliments ranging from headaches to epilepsy. The active ingredient in the bear bile is ursodeoxycholic acid; considered to many as somewhat of a ‘wonder cure.’ However, the use of the bear bile has caused torture and extreme pain to the Asiatic moon and sun bears, who are now endangered and facing extinction.
The frustrating and ironic fact is that the active ingredient in bear bile has been proven to be identically duplicated both synthetically as well as from various herbs in 54 alternative ways. This knowledge is not being accepted as an alternative to the ‘real deal’ bile.
The unfortunate bears that find themselves held captive on the bear bile farms, are hunted from the nearby forests and sometimes smuggled over the border from Laos. At around the age of three years, the bears are considered full grown and the painful bile extraction begins. The bears are kept in tiny cages for their entire lives on the farm. The cages are designed to restrict any movement so that it makes the ‘milking’ process easier, however because the bears are not even able to turn around, they develop sores and open wounds on their bodies from rubbing on the cages.
The bears are forced to undergo painful and dangerous extraction of their bile up to twice daily, using a steel catheter that is embedded into its stomach and sometimes steel corsets, to keep them immobilized. The pain is so excruciating for the bears that during the ‘milking,’ they will thrash uncontrollably, bang their heads against the cages and have even been documented as tearing the flesh from their own paws to try to distract themselves from the torture and pain. Many bears die slowly from infections or liver ailments, including cancer.
At around the ages of five to ten years, a bear will stop producing bile and will then either be left to die or more often than not, slaughtered for their paws or gall bladders, which are still considered delicacies in Asian restaurants where they can reach hundreds of dollars for their consumption.
An estimated 4000 bears are kept illegally in Vietnam’s flourishing bear farms and throughout Asia a staggering 20,000 bears are held captive in bear bile farms per year!
Milking of bear bile was made illegal in 2005 in Vietnam and instead of putting its practice to an end, it has created a thriving black market due to its high demand. The practice of Bear Bile milking remains to be legal in China and Japan.
ARM plans to begin investigations in November of 2012.