Bear bile-extracting farms near collapse in SKorea
PostedFebruary 7, 2014
Several bears lie on top of each other, as still as teddy bears, as they gaze out past rusty iron bars. Others pace restlessly. The ground below their metal cages is littered with feces, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, dog food and fruit. They’ve been kept in these dirty pens since birth, bred for a single purpose: to be killed for their bile.
But these bears aren’t dying. The industry is.
Though their bile has been used as medicine in Asia for thousands of years, cheaper foreign sources, growing skepticism over bear bile’s medicinal value and worries about international condemnation have led to a huge drop in South Korean demand. Kim KwangSoo, the owner of this farm in Dangjin, about 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) south of Seoul, said he hasn’t had a bear bile customer in five years.
That, however, doesn’t ensure the animals a peaceful future. The government is offering farmers money and incentives to sterilize or slaughter their bears, but the farmers are demanding much more.