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04/11/2013

Bear bile farm puts off stock market launch

Bear

A bear rescued from a bile farm, now living in a sanctuary in China. (Photo: Animals Asia)

A Chinese bear bile farm is putting off its stock market launch.

For now.

Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Company said the delay in their IPO is the result of needing more time to prepare the required information. It had been expected to file financial reports to the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) before May 13.

The company has encountered many difficulties since it first applied two years ago. Animals Asia, an agency that works in China, says these difficulties may reflect that neither the financial community nor the general public would support the listing of a company that extracts bile from live bears.

“Although we understand this is not a final withdrawal from the application process, it appears that Guizhentang has chosen to quietly withdraw from this confrontation between profit and animal welfare,” said Animals Asia.  

The bear bile trade sees over 10,000 bears — mainly moon bears but also sun bears and brown bears — kept on farms in China, North Korea and Vietnam. The bears are "milked" regularly for their bile, which is used for traditional medicine.

According to reports, bile is usually extracted twice a day through an implanted tube; the process is believed to be painful as the bears moan and chew their paws while being "milked" for their bile.

Traditionally, bear bile was extracted by killing a wild animal and removing its gallbladder. But in the 1980s, bile farms began appearing in North Korea and eventually spread to other regions.

The Asian black bear, most commonly seen on farms, is listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Animals.

Guizhentang announced in February 2011 that it would raise funds through a public listing and increase its number of bears from 400 to 1,200.

There are about 240 bear bile farms in China.

Raveena Aulakh is the Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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