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The Moon Bear Rescue Center

asiatic moon bears


After speaking on the Zoo's trail system yesterday morning, I went with the rest of the conference attendees to the Moon Bear Rescue Center outside Chengdu. Although the Center cares for a few other bears, it is almost entirely focused on Asiatic black bears rescued from the bear bile trade.

Bear bile is used in some traditional medicines as well as other products. Unfortunately, harvesting is done through a variety of inhumane techniques—in some cases by inserting a permanent catheter to the bear's gall bladder, in others by stitching the gall bladder to the abdominal wall and allowing the bile to drip through a semi-permanent opening through the abdomen. These bears are also typically kept in extremely small cages.
 
The Moon Bear Rescue Center (the name comes from the crescent moon-shaped chest markings on Asiatic black bears—check our Asiatic black bear Ben next time you're at the Zoo) was created and is operated by Animals Asia, which works for animal well-being in Asia through a variety of initiatives. They work closely with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and invited me to speak to the group.
 
Between the Chengdu center and another in Vietnam, Animals Asia has rescued over 400 bears. The bears are housed in large enclosures, and there is a very extensive enrichment and positive reinforcement training program to facilitate daily and veterinary care. Sadly, many of the bears are in very poor health on arrival, but the Center has done excellent work with those that could be rehabilitated.
 
Today, bear bile "farming" is still legal. It is thought that there are as many as 10,000 bears being held for this purpose. Ending this practice is one of Animals Asia's primary goals, and the Chinese government has committed to an eventual end.

moon bear enrichment items

Storage of moon bear enrichment items

Interpretive graphics at the Center explain the bear bile trade


Statue of the first bear rescued by Animals Asia

The Moon Bear Rescue Center

After speaking on the Zoo's trail system yesterday morning, I went with the rest of the conference attendees to the Moon Bear Rescue Center outside Chengdu. Although the Center cares for a few other bears, it is almost entirely focused on Asiatic black bears rescued from the bear bile trade. Bear bile is used in some traditional medicines as well as other products. Unfortunately, harvesting is done through a variety of inhumane techniques  - in some cases by inserting a permanent catheter to the bear's gall bladder, in others by stitching the gall bladder to the abdominal wall and allowing the bile to drip through a semi-permanent opening through the abdomen. These bears are also typically maintained in extremely small cages.
 
The Moon Bear Rescue Center (the name comes from the crescent moon-shaped chest markings on Asiatic black bears - check our Asiatic black bear Ben next time you're at the Zoo) was created and is operated by Animals Asia, which works for animal well-being in Asia through a variety of initiatives. They work closely with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, and initiated my invitation to speak to the group.
 
Between the Chengdu center and another in Vietnam, Animals Asia has rescued over 400 bears. The bears are housed in large enclosures, and there is a very extensive enrichment and positive reinforcement training program to facilitate daily and veterinary care. Sadly, many of the bears are in very poor health on arrival, but the Center has done excellent work with those that could be rehabilitated.
 
Today, bear bile "farming" is still legal. It is thought that there are as many as 10,000 bears being held for this purpose. Ending this practice is one of Animals Asia's primary goals, and the Chinese government has committed to an eventual end.