MEP backs campaign to end Bear misery

25 October 2005
MEP Alyn Smith has today backed calls in the European Parliament for an end to the suffering of Moon Bears in China.

The "Moon Bear" or Asiatic Black Bear is endangered but is still farmed in parts of China for bile used in traditional medicines, despite the existence of natural alternatives.

Mr Smith is supporting a resolution in the European Parliament calling on China to ban breeding of bears on farms and to phase out bear farming all together before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Speaking from Strasbourg Mr Smith said

"I fully support the call to end what is a cruel and unnecessary practice. I welcome the fact that some action has been taken in China to close some bear farms but this is not enough. We must work to bring about an end to the farming of "moon bears" all together.

"These bears suffer considerable pain in order for their bile to be extracted and used in medicines. Chinese Medicine practitioners have acknowledged that they no longer need to use the bear bile for their medicines, so why is the government allowing this practice to continue?

"I sincerely hope European pressure will help bring about an end to this. The 2008 Olympics is an opportunity for China to show that it has changed its ways."

Note to Editors

  • Asiatic Black Bears are known as moon bears due to the coloured crescent shape on their chests
  • They weigh up to 200 kgs and can be up to six feet tall
  • There are fewer than 25,000 left in the wild.
  • Over 7000 Asiatic Black bears are currently kept in farm conditions for the production of bile.
  • The bears are generally kept in small cages
  • 40 bear farms have been closed since 2000 with the bears now cared for by the Animals Asia Foundation
  • There are over 50 accepted naturally occurring alternatives to bear bile which could be used by traditional medical practitioners