How to get your site included in FETCH. The bile can be harvested using several techniques, all of which require some degree of surgery, and may leave a permanent fistula or inserted catheter. A significant proportion of the bears die because of the stress of unskilled surgery or the infections which may occur. Farmed bile bears are housed continuously in small cages which often prevent them from standing or sitting upright, or from turning around. These highly restrictive cage systems and the low level of skilled husbandry can lead to a wide range of welfare concerns including physical injuries, pain, severe mental stress and muscle atrophy. Some bears are caught as cubs and may be kept in these conditions for up to 30 years. The practice of factory farming bears for bile has been extensively condemned, including by Chinese physicians. Newly Revised Materia Medica, Tang Dynasty, 659 A.
Initially, bile was collected from wild bears which were killed and the gall and its contents cut from the body. In the early 1980s, methods of extracting bile from live bears were developed in North Korea and farming of bile bears began. This rapidly spread to China and other regions. The demand for bile and gallbladders exists in Asian communities throughout the world, including the EU and the US. This demand has led to bears being hunted in the US specifically for this purpose. Several methods can be used to extract the bile. Repeated percutaneous biliary drainage uses an ultrasound imager to locate the gallbladder, which is then punctured and the bile extracted. Permanent implantation uses a tube entered into the gallbladder through the abdomen. 20 ml of bile during each extraction.
Catheterization involves pushing a steel or perspex catheter through the bear’s abdomen and into the gallbladder. The full-jacket method uses a permanent catheter tube to extract the bile which is then collected in a plastic bag set in a metal box worn by the bear. The free drip method involves making a permanent hole, or fistula, in the bear’s abdomen and gallbladder, from which bile freely drips out. The wound is vulnerable to infection, and bile can leak back into the abdomen, causing high mortality rates. Sometimes, the hole is kept open with a perspex catheter, which HSUS writes causes severe pain. Removal of the whole gallbladder is sometimes used. This method is used when wild bears are killed for their bile. Bears are commonly kept in extraction cages.
Cubs are sometimes caught in the wild and used to supplement numbers held captive in farms. 10 times the monthly wage of a restaurant worker in China. Bile extraction begins at three years-of-age and continues for a minimum of five to ten years. Some bears may be kept in cages for bile extraction for 20 years or more. 2 kg of bile over a 5-yr production life. To facilitate the bile extraction process, mature bears are usually kept in small cages measuring approximately 130 x 70 x 60 cm. These cages are so small they prevent the bears from being able to sit upright, stand or turn around. Some bears are kept in crush cages, the sides of which can be moved inwards to restrain the bear. Bile bears are often subjected to other procedures which have their own concomitant ethical and welfare concerns.
These include declawing in which the third phalanx of each front digit is amputated to prevent the bears from self-mutilating or harming the farm workers. Pathology reports have shown that bile from sick bears is often contaminated with, blood, pus, faeces, urine, bacteria and cancer cells. International concern about the welfare of bile bears began in 1993. Many bile bear farms have little or no veterinary supervision and the animal husbandry is often conducted by non-skilled attendants. In combination with the impacts of small cage sizes, their spacing and lack of internal structures, there are several indicators of poor welfare. Elevated corticosteroid concentrations are a widely acknowledged indicator of physiological stress. A 2000 survey revealed that bile bears suffered from sores, skin conditions, ectoparasites, hair loss, bone deformities, injuries, swollen limbs, dental and breathing problems, diarrhoea and scarring. Many of the bears had a combination of these conditions. Academic sources report that bile bears exhibit abnormal behaviours such as stereotypies, excessive inactivity and self-mutilation.
12 years under such circumstances results in severe mental stress and muscle atrophy. World Animal Protection sent researchers to 11 bile farms. The Chinese media reported an incident in which a mother bear, having escaped her cage, strangled her own cub and then killed herself by intentionally running into a wall. Farmed bile bears live to an average age of five years old whereas healthy captive bears can live up to 35 years of age and wild bears for between 25 and 30 years. In 1994, Chinese authorities announced that no new bear farms would be licensed and in 1996, issued a special notice stating that no foreign object was allowed to be inserted into a bear body. No bears younger than 3 years of age and lighter than 100 kg were to be used for bile extraction, and bears could be confined in cages only during the time of bile extraction. In 2006, the Chinese State Council Information Office said that it was enforcing a “Technical Code of Practice for Raising Black Bears”, which “requires hygienic, painless practice for gall extraction and make strict regulations on the techniques and conditions for nursing, exercise and propagation.
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