.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Chinese Farmer Gets His Just Deserts When He Is Killed and Eaten by the Moon Bears That He Tortured for Their Bile

In a grotesque example of what rocker Mick Jagger might call "Rough Justice," a Chinese man who tortured and exploited moon bears for their lucrative bile was killed and eaten by them early last month in the northern province of Jilin. Han Shigen was attacked by six of the black Asian bears as he was cleaning their pen and the police were forced to distract his attackers with raw meat in order to recover what was left of him.

This incident has focused attention -- if ever so briefly -- on the Chinese's barbaric treatment of bears. In China, more than 7,000 bears are held captive on two-hundred farms so that their bile can be forcibly taken from them; in Vietnam, 3,000 additional bears are held under similar circumstances and still more bears are likewise victimized in Korea. The conditions under which the bears are kept are appalling. They are confined to cages so small that they do not even have space enough to move and they are outfitted with full metal jackets so as to prevent them from putting up any resistance. (See photo above of a caged moon bear named Saskia.) The bile is extracted by means of either catheters surgically implanted in their gall bladders or through holes drilled in their abdomens. These crude operations are extremely painful and often lead to serious infections.

The bear farmers' inhumane treatment does not end with the injections, however. They often cut off the bears' entire toes rather than declawing them and patches of missing fur attest to the near-starvation conditions under which the animals are kept. These unfortunate animals also often sustain head and oral injuries in their futile attempts to escape. (See photo below of Rupert who suffered brain damage from holes drilled into his stomach which became infected.)

The raison d'etre behind all of this is, of course, money. Bear bile has been used in Chinese folk medicine for centuries and it is used to treat inflammation, heart disease, impotence, Parkinson's disease, and liver ailments. Two grams of bear bile powder, for instance, can sell for up to as much as $100! The bile is consumed primarily by the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese of Asia and elsewhere. It can even be purchased openly in San Francisco's Chinatown despite a state law banning its sale. Worst still, the killing of bears for their bile has spread to the national parks of the United States. In its October 24th edition, the Washington Post reported that black bears living along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia were being killed for their gall bladders which can fetch up to as much as $1,000 in Asia. At this rate, a bear's gall bladder is worth more than an ounce of cocaine. Moreover, the bear bile farmers in China are so proficient -- and ruthless! -- that they have flooded the market and the excess bile is now being used in the manufacture of shampoo, wine, and health teas.

The moon bears, so called because of the yellow crescent of fur splashed on their chests, do not have much going for them but they do have a tireless defender and rescuer in their corner by the name of Jill Robinson. (See photo on the right.) As founder of the Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), this English woman has established a twenty-five acre refuge in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, for moon bears which her organization has rescued. So far she has saved one-hundred-eighty-five bears and is pressing the Chinese authorities to close all bear farms before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In February of this year Vietnam agreed to phase out its bear farms but it is not known when -- and if -- this will become a reality.

Once rescued the bears require surgery to remove their catheters and to repair various other wounds. Moreover, since they have lived their entire lives in cages, they cannot be released into the wild. Rehabilitation does not come cheap, however, and it costs AAF $80,000 a month to operate the sanctuary.

All of the hell that the Chinese and others put these poor bears through is not only barbaric but senseless as well. Synthetic bear bile (ursodeoxycholic acid or UDCA) is just as effective as the real thing and costs considerably less also. It goes without saying, however, that a switch to UDCA would put all of these capitalistic monsters out of business and the Chinese communists, despite their many notable achievements, have never shown much concern for either the animals or the environment.

Elsewhere in the world, the brown bear (ursus arctos arctos) is making a comeback in Europe thanks to reintroduction efforts in Austria, Italy, and France. Unfortunately, the bear and its supporters suffered a damaging setback on November 1, 2004 when a hunter in the French Pyrenees shot and killed a fifteen-year-old bear named Cannelle who was the last remaining female brown bear of pure Pyrenean stock.

In America, both the grizzly and black bear populations were dealt major blows this week. First of all, the media have been reporting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to remove the grizzlies living in and around Yellowstone National Park (but not those living inside the park) from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. This is expected to occur in early 2007 and Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming have already drafted legislation to allow the bears to be hunted once this occurs. The disreputable National Wildlife Federation (NWF) supports delisting of the grizzly while the National Resources Defense Council opposes the move. This distressing news comes on the heels of a November 13th report in the Washington Post that at least twenty-one grizzlies living north of Yellowstone in northwest Montana have been either shot or poisoned in the last two years. (See photo below of three grizzlies playing in the snow in Montana.)

Finally, in the armpit of America, officials in New Jersey this week announced that they are going to allow black bears to be hunted in the northwestern part of the state for six days next month. During the last hunt, held in 2003, three-hundred-twenty-eight bears were mercilessly gunned down. In the Garden State, the capitalists and the bourgeoisie continue to destroy the bears' habitat through their unchecked greed and then turn around and use reports of bear sightings in their new developments as a pretext for exterminating these animals. New Jerseyans are surpassed in their greed, bloodlust, and hypocrisy by only their bigotry, corruption, and general baseness.

Photos: Animals Asia Foundation (Saskia and Jill Robinson), Kathleen McLaughlin, San Francisco Chronicle (Rupert), and Dierdre Eitel, Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Montana grizzlies).