Thousands of bears are locked up under horrible conditions on bear farms in China. The World Society for the Protection of Animals estimates that approximately 12,000 bears are currently suffering on bear farms around Asia, with an estimated 16,000 left in the wild. While bear bile farming is legal in China, the only procedure permitted to drain bile is the so-called 'free-drip' method whereby a permanent hole is cut into the bear's abdomen for bile to leak through continually. Farmers also often mutilate the bears by breaking their teeth and pulling out their claws in order to prevent potential injury.
Bear bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine to prevent and reduce fever, heat and inflammation and is also believed to have an efficacy of protecting the liver, improving eyesight, and breaking down gallstones. Although some scientific research has indicated that bear bile might work for treating gallstones, no evidence shows any benefits for the other health problems. In addition, over 50 herbal and synthetic substitutes have been proved to have the same medical effect as bear bile and that do not come at the cost of animal suffering.