Asiatic Black Bears Suffer from Appetite for Bear Bile


In 2012, bile bear tonic-selling Chinese Guizhentang Pharmaceutical went under fire after they have appeared in the to seek approval to be a publicly listed company in the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, in which the animal rights movement and famous personalities, as well as citizens have criticized their action.

With bear bile known for its medicinal purposes, an imbalance between the supply and demand for wild bear has occurred. In the 1960s, researchers found a way to extract bile from a live wild bear; and in 1983, this technique was used in Jilin Province of China. In 1993, the International Fund for Animal Welfare reported the bile juice harvesting procedures done in a farm in China’s Guangdong Province, which has attracted international criticism.

How effective is bear bile? Experts say that it lowers one’s body temperature and has detoxification capabilities, and is said to have the efficacy of 50 other types of medicines and herbs. Bile juice is said to have the ability to protect the liver as it contains ursodeoxycholic acid (secondary bile acid that helps to digest fat), which can be manufactured chemically. Experts believe that extracting bile through unhygienic practices from wild bears may cause parasitic and bacterial infection to the consumer. In particular, practices of extracting bear bile may cause infection from ‘superbacteria’, which has the ability to tolerate antibacterial medication that may cause fatality to the human body. A case in Vietnam has been reported of a person who died after consuming bear bile.

Asiatic black bears inhabit 16 administrative regions of China and currently have an estimated population size of about 28,000. Many companies try to capture live black bears mainly for economic purposes. A kilogram of bile juice amounts to about USD 635 (about KRW 690,000). Currently, there are about 98 breeding companies for black bears in China and about 183 cooperatives. They produce about 123 kinds of medicines and medicinal products. These companies are recorded to have a profit that amounts to CNY 100 billion (KRW 174 billion).

The “Guizhentang Scandal” has aroused attention to press harder against bile extraction practices and has been classified to the level of “animal abuse” in China. In November 1988, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the “Protection of Chinese Wildlife Act”. However, for the past 20 years, due to insatiable demand and greed of humans, not only wildlife has been facing extinction, but many other members of the animal kingdom have been suffering. Written by Wang Qi Reporter, Summary by Rigoberto Banta Jr.

Search in Site