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Vietnam's traditional medicine doctors opposed to bear bile farming, says new survey
29 November 2010
93% of Vietnam's traditional medicine practitioners oppose bear bile farming
76% have never prescribed bear bile
57% of bear bile poisoning cases reported have resulted in the death of the patient
Ninety three per cent of Vietnam��s traditional medicine practitioners are opposed to bear bile farming and 76 per cent have never prescribed bear bile, according to a survey of 152 traditional medicine practitioners in Vietnam carried out by Animals Asia Foundation.
Twenty four per cent of practitioners surveyed have prescribed bear bile to treat medical conditions ranging from bruises, fever, poor blood circulation, and cirrhosis. The responses suggest however that bear bile is not safe for human consumption with respondents reporting seven cases of bear bile poisoning, four of which (57 per cent) had resulted in the death of the patient.
Respondents commented that bear bile is expensive, poor quality and not scientifically proven. Thirty-nine herbal alternatives to bear bile were identified by the traditional medicine practitioners, with 45 per cent naming the bear bile plant (Cay mat gau). Animals Asia is aware of 54 herbal alternatives that can be used instead of bear bile in China.
Dr Nguyen Xuan Huong, Chairman of the Traditional Medicine Association of Vietnam, who holds the title of People's Doctor, the highest ranking position in the country's medical profession has commented that bear bile does not have a prominent role in traditional medicine with only a handful of around 1500 remedies containing bear bile.
Jill Robinson MBE, Founder and CEO of Animals Asia commented: ��With so many alternatives to bear bile why are these miserable bears suffering in cages, and continuing to have their bile removed in what is an illegal industry in Vietnam? No-one will die from the lack of bear bile and, ironically, it seems that people are now becoming sick and even dying from taking it.��
Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam Director, Animals Asia commented:
��This survey shows what we have known to be true for a long time, that people who keep bears and extract and sell their bile can��t use traditional medicine as the reason for this practice. Traditional medicine practitioners have clearly rejected the use of bear bile.��
Bear bile farming has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992 though people are allowed to keep bears as pets. While owners claim bears are not milked, it is widely known that bear farming is a thriving industry. According to government figures released in 2005, there are 4,190 bears on farms, and 1,453 bear farmers.
Nov 02 2010, a donation from sales of Ura's Dream went to CARE ( Coexistence Animal Rights on Earth ).
CARE currently has over 43000 members, they are heavily involved in rescuing street animals and working to improve the lives of animals in Korea.
We are pleased to be part of the team sharing the same goal.
The Macquarie Foundation will be making a matching donation.
Children's book 'Ura's Dream' was launched on World Animals Day 2010-October 4- in Seoul, Korea attended by a broad cross section of people including children, Government officials, bankers, business people, monks and actors.
The party included a speech both in Korean and English by the Korean World Animal Day Ambassador, Gina Moon.
And it's followed by FORCA band playing animal theme songs to celebrate the day. http://cafe.naver.com/ceoband
G. Moon's speech(English):
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and thanks for coming to this party.
Many of you may not be aware that today is World Animal Day.
It is very fitting that we hold this book launch about Korean animals on this day. It seemed like a good chance to send a reminder about the importance of animals to our lives.
It is so easy to forget that throughout history animals have been right beside us, guiding us to a better world.
They have carried us into battle, helped plow our fields, provided companionship to the lonely- and to the young and the old- and given their lives for us.
As we all get caught up in this busy and challenging world we often forget the simple pleasure that our family pet gives us and, sadly, the fact that many domesticated animals are being mistreated and that many wild animals we simply take for granted may not be part of the lives of our children and their children.
If we consider the family of Tigers in Ura�s Dream, this is a good example of the situation of many wild animals.
Did you know there are now more tigers in captivity in the State of Texas than exist in the wild across Asia ?
Also- did you know there are now only about 16 moon bears in the wild in Korea and at least 1200 in bear farms?
I do not want to dwell longer on such issues on this happy day but I would like to ask you to take a moment to step back and reflect today on the special relationship that exists between people and animals and the importance of us showing respect and care for them.
Thanks again for coming and sharing World Animals Day with us and please enjoy the party."
On the 4th October in Seoul, Korea, their will be a special function to launch "Ura's Dream". This follows the very successful "Ura's World" which was published last year.The animations are truly beautiful.
Ura the young Moon Bear continues his adventures from the first book as he dreams during his winter hibernation. Ura meets a number of extinct or near extinct animals on the Korean peninsula and despite all the fun their is a clear message of the need to cherish animals.
As with the last book all of the profit is to be donated to environmental groups and we encourage all to try to buy a copy. Let us know firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help on finding an on line ordering site.
This book was produced with great support from moonbears.org.
Below link is to a legislative proposal to ban bear farming submitted to China's People's Congress. We need votes of support to the proposal. The site is in Chinese. But all you need to do is to click the box with two hands clapping, on the far left side of the screen under the proposal text. One computer can only vote once.
Thank you for your support.
moonbears.org is very pleased to announce that finally we have managed to flag officially in correspondence coordinated by WSPA the concept of a sanctuary for freed bears in Korea.
Up until now it has been difficult to get consensus from interested organisations that Government should be asked to consider such sanctuaries so it is quite a breakthrough to have this reference in the letter.
In our next update we will publish the letter itself.
Today there are 16 bears left in the wild- confirmed by Jirsan moon bear species restoration centre.
June12, 2010, a 4 year old male bear had been found dead by the centre team being poisoned- suspected by a farmer near by. After autopsy, the amounts of poison found in his body exceeded a lethal dose by 40 times.
Another 6-year-old female named Lang-lim was found dead hanging on a tree by a trap on June 29. Farmer Choi (71) from a near by village was arrested and charged for placing the trap.
Lang-lim was brought from North Korea and gave birth to a cub last year for the first time. According to the specialists, this threatens the baby�s survival.
moonbears.org urges the Ministry of Environment to educate villagers on the importance of the species restoration project and compensate farmers in the village as this holds the key to success of the Jirisan project.
By way of contrast, compared to those in the wild there are 1,140-farmed bears across the country in 66 bear bile farms today.
ANIMAL ASIA FOUNDATION MEDIA RELEASE~
21 July 2010
Vietnam's highest-ranking traditional medicine practitioner has warned consumers to stop taking bear bile products or risk liver and kidney damage - even death.
Doctor Nguyen Xuan Huong has joined Animals Asia's campaign to end bear bile farming after seeing the shocking effects of bile consumption on some of his patients, including two government officials who died after taking bear bile tonics.
Dr Huong, who is Chairman of the Traditional Medicine Association of Vietnam - and carries the title of People's Doctor the highest ranking position in the country's medical profession - has treated 10 patients for bear bile poisoning since 1985, including two he couldn't save. Dr Huong's last bear bile patient was in 2006 - a 55-year-old male from Hanoi who had consumed too much bear bile and was jaundiced. Dr Huong's diagnosis was damage to the liver caused by the bear bile. He successfully treated this patient, but for others it was too late.
When the Director of Construction in Quang Ninh Province came to Dr Huong in 1995 it was already too late - his skin was yellow, he couldn't walk or talk and he had severe cirrhosis of the liver. He died two weeks later aged 50. The director had consumed bear bile mixed with wine for virility.
Dr Huong's second fatal case was in 2002 - a 75-year-old Hanoi doctor, whose son kept bears, had taken 2cc of bear bile mixed with wine as a health tonic. By the time he arrived at Dr Huong's Hanoi clinic, his body was covered in dark patches and his fingernails and toenails had turned black and later fell off. Dr Huong treated the man for a year with herbal medicine to increase the function of the liver, but his organs were two severely damaged and he died from the poisoning. He said the man looked similar to the man in the attached photo, who was also being treated for bear bile poisoning.
"In each of these 10 cases, all had damage to the liver and in most cases, the liver was almost gone - the part that was left was swollen, necrotic and hard," Dr Huong said. "Bear bile also causes kidney failure." He said other symptoms included loss of appetite, fatigue, red eyes, aches and pains in the body, blood in the urine and severe dehydration and perspiration.
Dr Huong said bear bile was rarely used in authentic traditional medicine and was more likely to be sold as a quack "cure" for hangovers or impotence. "I've read 17,000 traditional medicine formulas and only six mentioned the use of bear bile and even then, its use is minimal and it has little effect. People should never use bear bile - even for complaints such as fertility and strengthening the body. Eighty per cent of those consuming bear bile will have liver damage from drinking even 2cc, and if you mix it with rice wine, the damage will be worse."
Dr Huong, who served two terms in Vietnam's National Assembly, has repeatedly raised the issue in the assembly but failed to make an impression. "Even highly educated people still don't understand the dangers. Bear bile serves a purpose in bears - it aids in their digestion, just as human bile aids in our digestion. It goes against nature for humans to consume bile from bears; it attacks the organs - and the bears' become ill when their bile is extracted. "Bile is obviously different in each species and is there to serve the animal in whose body it exists."
Animals Asia Founder and CEO Jill Robinson said she hoped Dr Huong's decision to go public would prompt health and customs authorities to look urgently into the risks of bear bile consumption. "Korean tourists are lining up to visit bear farms in Vietnam on organised bus tours, many leaving with vials of fresh bear bile as a hangover cure - and bear bile is sold on the black market in Chinatowns around the world. The longer it takes the authorities to act, the more people will fall ill and possibly die."
Dr Huong qualified as a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner in 1972 after starting his studies in 1965. He boasts 16 generations of family working in TCM. Dr Huong studied for six years at the Beijing University of TCM.
Animals Asia's Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said that while bear bile extraction was illegal in Vietnam, lack of enforcement meant the practice was still widespread. The bears are drugged - usually with the illegal drug, ketamine - removed from their small cages, restrained with ropes and jabbed in the abdomen with four-inch needles until the gall bladder is found. The bile is extracted with a catheter and medicinal pump. There are currently over 4,000 bears on farms in Vietnam.
In November 2005, Animals Asia signed an agreement with the Vietnamese government to rescue 200 bears and care for them at our Vietnam Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park. Our rescue centre is currently home to over 60 bears confiscated by the government and is ready to receive more bears rescued from bear farms.
Dr Huong is available for interviews in Vietnamese and Chinese. Mobile: 0913 059211; Clinic: 04 8472515. English translation can be arranged through Animals Asia. Dr Huong's comments in this press release have been translated from Vietnamese.
Green Korea urges the Korean government to end the 30 year history of bear farming policy in the country.
On July 9 at the National Assembly Seoul, Green Korea successfully held a special exhibition inviting 30 guests from all different areas - including members of the National Assembly, doctors of Korean Traditional Medicine associations and executives of the bear farmer's association. The exhibition ended with invited guests putting bear foot prints in ink on a white board with the title 'Passage to a Freedom'. Each guest was also invited to write a comment alongside their 'print'.
Ms Kim Miyong - the bear team manager of Green Korea added a message arguing that it is now time to act to end the 30 years of agony and for the Government to change its policy on the bear farming issue and to legislate to ban the bear farming industry.
Mr. Yeom, Kwang-ho, the Chairman of the Bear Farm Association also expressed his hope that the Korean government will buy all 1140 farmed bears across the country. He said the total cost of compensating bear farmers would be around 20 to 30 billion won (20 to 30 million dollars) - asking a minimum of 17.5 million won per a bear. Since the bear farmers are also responsible for making the wrong decision from the beginning - this figure seems impossible to be met by the Korean government when the compensation process eventually starts.
Of course none of these figures include the cost of moving the bears to sanctuaries to see out the rest of their days. But this action by Green Korea is a wonderful start.
Again, well done Green Korea!
For those who are interested in more stories, please click the following link-
For those who wants to help Green Korea's stop bear farming law campaign, please go to the following link-
Download page has been specially created for the posters to stop Korean bear farming industries. Please visit.
Miracle news- it has been a year since we posted news on our 'Miracle' bear. More updates is coming soon.
The spokesperson Ms Jie-ae Sohn
The former CNN correspondent to Korea, Jie-ae Sohn, has been appointed by the Korean Government as their official spokesperson for the G20 meeting in Korea in this coming November 11 and 12.
We would like to encourage everyone to contact Ms Sohn and express outrage about the Korean Governments policy on farmed bears.
The G20 is a time when Korea wishes to show it can be a global leader economically but the point needs to be made that it is lagging far behind the rest of the world on such basic things as animal welfare.
If any readers are in contact with people coming to Korea for the G20- particularly politicians or diplomats, please let me know at email@example.com
moonbears.org invites all of you to celebrate this remarkable day with us.
For anyone wishing to read a recent article on Ms Sohn's appointment please see the link to a Korea Herald article below. Her twitter account is g20jieae.
It has been confirmed that there are now a total of 19 moon bears in the wild (excluding one born in the breeding centre).The above photo shows new born cubs- male and female -in the wild found on February 23, 2010. Each cub was 2 months old, weighed 1.5kg each and was confirmed to be healthy.
According to Mr Yoon-su Lee (centre manager in the media department), the number of traps they collect from the Jirisan national park has decreased over the years.This is very good news.
The team do trap inspections weekly and Mr Lee didn't release the statistics of the exact number of traps collected in order to avoid unwanted criticism by the public.
The traps, usually placed by villagers, are actually designed to catch wild boar to reduce damage but unfortunately released moon bears have in the past been trapped instead.
Traps have always been one of the biggest issues that the centre has had to overcome to revive the moon bear population in the wild.
The following video is about the new cub-born on February 03, 2010- at the Jirisan centre. The mother was imported in 2004 from Russia and released to the wild but returned after failing the program. She gave birth to the cub 6 months after her return. The cub will stay with her for another 6 to 8 months and will be released into the wild by October 2010.
This video footage is valuable in that it shows interesting information on the mother looking after its cub after birth. Jirisan moon bear restoration centre is planning to increase the number of moon bears in the wild to a minimum of 50 in the future. This is wonderful work by all involved.
moonbears.org has become a part of World Animal Day celebration in Korea, 4th of October, 2010.
The Wold Animal Day is set up to connect millions of animal lovers and to unite the animal welfare movement throughout the world embracing all animals and and the unique concerns of each, in every country.
moonbears.org invites all of you to celebrate this remarkable day with us.
moonbears.org has sent an official letter to Korea's President, Prime Minister, Minister of Environment, Minister of Knowledge Economy.
The letter explains our belief and reason why the Korean government should end the bear farming industry and build bear sanctuaries to care for the farmed animals.
We do not believe in slaughtering bears to phase out the farming industry but would rather find a good solution to benefit everyone in a long run.
moonbears.org believe the government decision making before Korea hosts the historic G20 meeting in Korea in November this year, 2010.
Please support our belief and help us spread word.
Sign the petition