Monday, January 16, 2006

Animals Asia's Response to China Government Statements on Bear Farming [Bile Bears / Moon Bears]

Please read on. From another poster:

It has been a tumultuous week, with the excitement of the 25 member nations of the European Parliament issuing an official declaration against bear farming, and then the Chinese Government’s seemingly disheartening response to that declaration. Jill has been fielding a steady stream of calls from local and international media following her meeting with officials in Beijing as well as countless e-mail messages from concerned supporters all around the world. As you will read in Jill’s message, we are in no way discouraged by Deputy Director’s Wang Wei’s statement but are instead further emboldened to publicize the truth about bear farming and to capitalize on this opening for dialog.

Animals Asia's response to China Government Statements on Bear Farming

Dear Friends of Animals Asia,

You may have recently read news of the European Declaration calling for China to end bear farming and asking the Government to escalate the ongoing closure of the bear farms and the rescue of the bears into the care of Animals Asia.

Soon after, there followed a press conference held by the Chinese Government rebutting the resolution and stating that they had no intention of eliminating the practice of bear farming before an alternative to bear bile could be found. They added that it was a necessary component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, involving a completely painless procedure for the bears.

Having just returned from Beijing, this is to update you on the current situation, and our response.

The press briefing on Thursday 12th January 2006 by Wang Wei, Deputy Director of the Department of Wildlife Conservation Under State Forestry Administration, was particularly interesting at this present time. It was not an unexpected reaction to the European Declaration calling on bear farming to end and, we believe, has been guided for the most part by comments which are "vintage" bear farmer propaganda.

Team members of Animals Asia have been fighting for the bears since 1993. During that time setbacks and interventions have challenged our work and progress, but still we remain in China rescuing the bears. We are neither undermined nor overwhelmed by this recent press conference. In many ways we welcome it, as we believe that it will now see greater scrutiny by a greater number of people in China itself - both within Government and without.

It is a fact that the rescue would not be where it is today were it not for our Government partners; the China Wildlife Conservation Association in Beijing, and the Sichuan Forestry Department in Chengdu. They have stated on record that they joined us to bring bear farming to an end, and that they are also authorised to speak on behalf of the Central Government in that respect. It is as a direct result of their help and intervention that over 40 farms have been closed down, and 198 bears have been rescued into our care.

However, it is clear that Wang Wei's current comments seriously conflict with these messages previously conveyed. Suggestions on Thursday that bear bile is irreplaceable, that humane methods of bile extraction exist and that old footage is being used (suggestions that we have already heard many times from the bear farmers) - must now be challenged more directly.

Even as recently as November 2005 our investigations have revealed bears still incarcerated in tiny wire cages, still wearing full metal jackets, still implanted with catheters, and still suffering obscene impacts to their health and welfare as a result of the bile extraction techniques which they are forced to endure.

We know that the new, so-called "humane", method of bile extraction is causing profound suffering and death to the bears - and we have more recent evidence that newer methods are now in use of which the government is unaware.
We know too that bear bile can indeed be easily and cheaply replaced. Eminent Chinese Doctors have already responded to Thursday's briefing, with Professor Liu Zhengcai stating: "any other Chinese medicines — such as chrysanthemums — or Western medicines are more effective. Bear bile is not a magic cure."

Finally we have new evidence that the success rate of breeding may not be as successful as the bear farmers maintain - individuals have admitted paying rural people to take cubs from the wild to supplement the captive population on their farms, clearly conducting a practice against China's current wildlife regulations.

We sincerely hope that, after many years of requesting such a meeting, and now hearing Wang Wei offer the opportunity for groups to speak directly with his department, that he will now allow the truth of the bear farming industry to be urgently conveyed.

As the only group currently rescuing bears in China, with nearly 13 years of hands on professional knowledge of their plight, we feel qualified to bring relevant information to Wang Wei's department which will clarify the reality of this repugnant, unnecessary industry once and for all. We have also extended an invitation to Wang Wei and his Department to visit our Sanctuary in Chengdu and are requesting permission to visit the 68 regulated farms which the Government has sanctioned.

Last but not least, our thanks to you all for giving 100% support to this campaign. It is true that we've reached a challenging time once again, but let us use this opportunity to speak out for the bears and expose an industry steeped in cruelty and deceit. Over seven thousand wretched Moon Bears are relying on our voice and support - they have never needed us more.

Warm wishes,
Jill Robinson MBE
Founder & CEO
Animals Asia Foundation

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