Monday, 5 March 2012

Barbaric Bear-bile

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Alternative medicine has often gained support because it is seen as natural and so likely to be better for you, whilst ‘working in harmony with nature’. However, in recent years there has been an outcry in the West against Chinese medicine, because of its use of endangered animals and plants, but in the East there is a growing middle class who are turning towards traditional alternative medicines, suddenly producing more demand than ever for these scarce animals. It is true that many countries differ in the way they treat animals and their protection, with the East tending to have more detachment and practical approaches towards animals, however shocking reports of caged bears being ‘milked’ for their bile is just horrific and worrying.

Most of their customers assume that the bear’s bile is collected from a killed wild bear, rather than a caged bear with a tube sticking out of an open wound in its abdomen. Many animal rights campaigns have been fighting for changes in Chinese laws to ban the practice of milking and to protect these endangered Moon bears, but with little effect. A report by the BBC1 stated that ‘the animals suffer enormous physical and psychological pain’ but farmers claim that by caging and milking the bears it lowers the demand for killing wild bears for their bile, and so protects the wild population. However, that does not justify the extensive suffering inflicted on these bears for what can, at best, be described as a placebo and at worst be described as a dangerous, wasteful and inhumane practice. This is just another example of the harmful nature of alternative medicine; this time for not only misleading its patients in to thinking they are getting an effective medical treatment but also for supporting the torture and eradication of an endangered species.


E Markham (2012). Barbaric Bear-bile Blogspot

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