The bears in this video may seem healthy and happy, but this wasn’t always the case. After being removed from bear bile farms in China and Vietnam, they were brought to sanctuaries. Thanks to their rescuers, the bears now live in safe and sanitary conditions. They can be seen excitedly opening Christmas gifts and receiving festive treats from their compassionate caretakers.
Commercial farming for the purposes of extracting bile from the gallbladders of bears began in China during the ’80s. The bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine, despite the existence of synthetic alternatives. Bears on these farms are confined to cages their entire lives, often without enough room to walk or stand.
Farmers drain bile using cruel methods that are painful and unhygienic, usually by inserting a tube into the bear without proper anesthesia. This procedure is usually not done by a veterinarian, and the bears who undergo this inhumane treatment often develop deadly tumors and infections while farmers pump them full of antibiotics just to keep them alive. Many bears are kept in these conditions their entire lives.
There has been some success in curbing bear bile farming. As a first step in ending the practice, China vowed in July to rescue 500 bears that were being held captive on a bile farm.