China rallies against bear farming - March 2011
Media focus fuels opposition
In recent weeks China has seen an unprecedented outcry across the country, calling for bear farming to end. We are greatly encouraged by this and by the support of our work throughout nearly two decades of working in China to close down these horrendous "bile factories" once and for all.
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Caged, diseased and dying bears continue to have bile painfully extracted.
At this time China is flooded with stories showing the true horrors of the industry: caged, diseased and dying bears, methods of bile extraction supposedly against regulations but still exposed by the media today, contaminated bile, and many of the products illegally exported to other countries.
In what is being termed as a "tipping point", banner headlines call for an end to bear bile farming and support for the bears is at an all time high. Besides the chorus of protests on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, even one of the country's top internet providers recently broadcast a story involving celebrities, doctors and 62 nationwide animal welfare groups who have also joined this campaign.
Lawmakers are calling for the escalation of anti cruelty laws which would make bear farming illegal overnight, celebrities such as Karen Mok were featured on a Sina-organised Microblog which saw over 4,000 people involved on the day, and over 90,000 signatures in response to an online signature campaign. Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors have joined the call, arguing that bear bile is not an essential ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and instead may compromise its legitimacy given the cruelty involved.
The "free-drip" method involves a permanently open wound, usually infected and extremely painful.
One celebrity even offered to have the "free drip" extraction method surgically performed on his own body, saying that if he did not suffer he would ask welfare groups like ours to end their campaign.
Scientists have been speaking openly of their development of a comprehensive bear bile alternative - which has still not been approved some thirty years after research began. This too is being picked up by a public, demanding to know why bears continue to suffer.
In this context, Animals Asia recognises that the main component for bringing bear farming to an end is to reduce the demand for bile. This is a financially driven industry which can only ever stop when there is no profit to be made.
Demand for bear bile also continues because people are not aware of the alternatives. Animals Asia is now creating a new country-wide education campaign to make people aware that there are over 54 herbal and synthetic alternatives to bile.
They are easily accessible, effective and less expensive than bile and, most importantly, the herbal alternatives are cruelty free.
The timing of this new campaign could not be more important. Our work over the past 17 years is already providing information for government officials, TCM practitioners, bile users themselves and the public in general, regarding the cruel treatment of bears and conservation impacts.
Increasingly, medical experts are speaking out about the potential health risks of taking the contaminated bile from such sick and diseased bears.
We also give presentations to schools and universities in China, showing students that bears belong in the wild, rather than on farms. We open our sanctuaries to thousands of people each year, enabling them to learn about this barbaric industry and understand why they should protect bears for their own sakes rather than how they benefit human kind. Without fail, visitors always leave pledging never to consume bear bile and to expand this message of awareness to family, friends and their communities.
Animals Asia Friendship Alliance
Today, there is an enormous movement growing within China which is being fuelled not only by organisations like ours that work quietly behind the scenes with central government and local authorities, but also by local Chinese groups working vocally and increasingly more effectively. Over 60 local groups have joined our Animals Asia Friendship Alliance across the country. We are helping these groups with advice, small grants and information, allowing them to grow strong. We are determined to help more grassroots Chinese people to change China from within. These are the people who are bringing animal welfare to the fore, and escalating programmes to end cruelty and abuse.
This also comes at a time when 20 provinces and districts have now pledged to be bear farm free, meaning that more than half of China is now free of the bile industry and committed to staying that way.
Healing without Harm
So at this time we are asking you to please help us to step up our “Healing without Harm” campaign, in partnership with TCM practitioners across the globe, and with doctors in China who are pledging not to prescribe or sell body parts or products originating from endangered species. Over the next few months we will be working with pharmacists, doctors and hospital staff, encouraging them to remove all bile products from their shelves. This programme previously began in Chengdu, where our bear rescue sanctuary is based, and quickly saw 33 pharmacists joining us and pledging never to sell bear bile again.
Nationwide media campaign – Say NO to bear bile!
We are ready to build on the momentum of support in China to launch a new nationwide education-media campaign. The purpose of this vital campaign is to create awareness of the dangers of bile and promote cruelty free alternatives. There has never been a more ideal time to reach out with this campaign, with people in China thirsty for more information and aware more than ever of the need for change. Through TV, Radio and Outdoor media extending to parts of China with high bile use, we can fill this gap and show the truth of an industry that is damaging to people and bears alike.
Help us fund this expanded campaign
Please now help us to raise the funds towards this profoundly important campaign. The more financial support we receive, the more far-reaching this campaign will be. Never before have we seen this tide of public opinion in China. This is the optimum time for accelerating every level of our work; when people are so much more aware of the true atrocities of the bile industry and when we can see the momentum for change building like never before.
You can also help raise awareness and rally more support
Please take a look at the Get Involved section of our website. You will find lots of ideas here, from simply passing out leaflets to holding a fundraiser.
You can also write letters, sign a petition or download one and have others sign also – more information on these can be found under the Spread the Word section on the website.
Donate now to help launch our new media campaign – Say NO to bear bile!
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