September 2011: SBS recently reported an undercover visit to a local bear far, where a reporter witnessed the milking of bile from a live bear. At this time, draining bile from a live bear is illegal. Under Korean law, bears must be 10 years of age in order to qualify for medicinal slaughter.
Transcript Synopsis (Translated from Hangul):
Reporter: “Just near an apartment block in the town of Koyang (in Kyongi province), Korea, there is an apparent dear farm. However, this is actually a ‘front’ for a large bear farm that has over 50 moon bears.”
The reporter visited the farm under the guise of an eager customer. The farmer took him inside and fired a sedation dart at one of his bears. The bear began to wander until it collapsed. The farmer emphasized that the bile was “fresh”, and that the milking would occur as quickly as possible.
Using an ultra sound machine, the farmer located the gall bladder and roughly pushed a large syringe into the bears body to draw out “dark green bile”. He added that he was “feeling generous”, and told the reporter he would give him extra bile so there would be a total of 120 to 130cc. 100cc costs approximately 5,000 USD on today’s market.
The incident was reported to the police and charged.
The State of Politics
Animal welfare advocates are eager for progress on the bill called “Bear Farm Management; Special law”, under which the process to end bear farming in Korea would begin. Although the bill presents a definite “step one”, it is in need of drastic amendments as issues such as farmer compensation, accommodation of the estimated 1400 farm bears in Korea, and the absence of rehabilitative facilities present hurdles. At this time, Korea has no sanctuary. It is speculated that a change in law might lead to humane euthanasia of farm bears, a deadline for farmers to slaughter their animals, or, a selective rehabilitative effort with some humane euthanasia. The “idealists solution” would be the creation of a sanctuary comparable to that run by Animals Asia in Chengdu.
One key player advocating on behalf of The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is NGO Green Korea United (GKU). Green Korea is opposed to euthanasia.
If the bill does not pass by February 2012, it will fail.
To sign a petition to end bear bile farming, please click here. Several NGOs and combining petitions in a joint effort to present evidence of relevance to the Minstry of the Environment. You can help.