Global Animal – The AP reports that two baby Asiatic black bears were rescued in a forest by a farmer in south China. Tian Shougui, a tea farmer, heard the animals crying in the forest and brought them home to his house in Sichuan province’s Longhua township. He didn’t realize they were bears.
“I heard their crying high up a hill, which made me very curious,” Tian told China’s CCTV. “I didn’t know what animals they were but still decided to bring them back to my home, just to save their lives.”
An animal welfare group stepped forward to care for the moon bears, so-named for the crescent-shaped mark on their chests. The group will eventually release the protected species into the wild.
That is a saving grace – and here’s why this story is meaningful beyond one farmer’s rescue of two bear cubs:
Moon Bears, or Asiatic Black Bears, are also called the ‘bile bear,’ and are kept in captivity in China and Vietnam to harvest bile, a digestive juice created by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. The bile is extracted from the bears’ gall bladders and sold as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The Asiatic black bear is one of the most commonly used and slaughtered on the bear farms, and is listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals. The bear gall bladder trade for TCM continues despite scientific evidence that there are no healing properties associated with consuming bear bile.
The farmer who brought the two cubs home and the people of the animal welfare group caring for them are examples of how individuals are taking action on behalf of animals in China. There are increasingly hopeful signals that compassion for animals is usurping longstanding, yet cruel, traditions. Last month, a large group gathered to protest the bear bile business and the expansion of a pharmaceutical company that sells bear bile as a health supplement (news video below).
Last week, Global Animal featured the story of how one man’s actions saved hundreds of dogs from being eaten in China.
Also, the tradition of serving shark fin soup at weddings seems to be slowly losing favor. Still, over 100 million sharks last year were pulled onto boats to have their fins hacked off, then tossed overboard to drown on the ocean floor. The change in mores can’t come quickly enough.
Although Tian Shougui didn’t know what particular kind of animals the moon bears were, the farmer’s motive was simply to “save their lives.” It’s an honorable instinct. And one to be respected and replicated, not just in China, but in our own countries, our own towns, and our own backyards. – Leah Lessard Jeon, Global Animal