CHINA: Saved by the Bloggers

LEXIE TUCKER WRITES – It all began with a video that spread on Sina Weibo, China’s popular micro blog website. Distributed by whistle-blowing writers, the short video snippets exposed the process by which bile is removed from Asiatic black bears, prompting outrage amid animal rights lovers and activists.

On August 8, approximately 150 Chinese drugstores in Chengdu declared they would no longer sell goods containing bear bile powder. This same oath was made in 2012 by over 100 drugstores in Shenyang, Zhuhai and various other cities.

As of 2013, over 260 drugstores have vowed to cease sale of any product containing the substance. Traditionally, bear bile is used in Chinese medicine to alleviate fever symptoms and conditions of the heart, liver, circulation, and eyes.

So, what’s the big deal? For one, the current method of extraction is considered cruel by many. It involves injecting a small tube into the animal’s gall bladder while it is still alive. Not only that, the bears are confined to small cages for extremely long periods of time (10 years or more) for convenient reuse.

Zhong Yuanwei, a manager with Dahua Pharmacy company in Chengdu, stated that “After [the company] got to know the industry, [they] found that there is a shared sympathy for the bears, and most of the customers agree too.”  Without the help of blogs, this cruelty might have continued indefinitely.

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