Saving China's "Farmed" Moon Bears
This is a tough post and - so be warned! - and some of the video on the rescue of Moon Bears in China is difficult to watch. The first below, for example, doesn't show particularly graphic images of the bears but you see their arrival at night to the rescue centre, the cages and the concern of Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia Foundation. It's impossible to fathom how human beings can do the damage they do to other human beings, and to animals. In China and Vietnam, Moon Bears - great lumbering black beasts named for the white crescents on their chests - are held in small cages, where they are "farmed" for their bile. Among practices, the animals have permanent shunts in their abdomens to drain bile used in Chinese medicine. Like I said, it's pretty rough stuff.
I'd read about this before and, last night, caught a good report on Global TV's national news about on the Animals Asia Foundation's Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, China (with HQ in Hong Kong). They're part of the Animals Asia Foundation, committed to both trying to rescue an estimated 9,000-10,000 bears being "farmed" in China and to publicize what's going on. (Chengdu is in southwestern China, the capital of Sichuan province.) Through the efforts of the Animals Asia Foundation (and that's a different link), 41 farms have been closed down and an estimated 360 bears rescued and taken to the Moon Bear centre, although staffers report more than 70 haven't survived. The bears end up with tumours inside and outside their bodies, liver disease, blindness and all manner of physical atrocities, which is why veterinarians can't always save and rehabilitate them. At the Moon Bear centre, British veterinarians, Dr. Claudia Hartley and Dr. David Donaldson from the Animal Health Trust recently performed eye surgery on many of the bears, in an attempt to restore sight or partial sight . (At Global's website - it looks like you can pull down a podcast to their full March 31 broadcast, but there's no separate link to video of the Moon Bear story I watched.)
Through the Moon Bear rescue site, you can access other links and great staff blogs, including Jill's, written by Robinson. Again, take care. There are heartbreaking stories, unhappy endings and some tough photographs, along with good news. Another interesting site is the Ursa Freedom Project, with the same goal of liberating the caged Moon Bears.
It's easy to research what's happening to these bears and find sites inviting public support. Other ways to make your views on bear farming known might include linking to the Chinese embassy in Canada - or in any country where you live - as well as the Vietnamese embasy. Contact info is available at the sites.
There's also a Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Vietnam, where, according to the above video, about 4,000 bears are currently being farmed for their bile, although it is illegal to take it or use it in products in that country.
And, finally, here is a video taken by a visitor to the Shengdu Moon Bear Rescue Centre (in Sichuan province) showing a bear that appears to have been nursed back to health. As the video says, Enjoy!