Hawaii is one of only a few states where the commercial trade of bear bile and bear products is unrestricted. However, the state legislature has before it two bills (HB 2296 and SB 2232) that would “prohibit the purchase, sale, transportation, and delivery of any product, item, or substance containing, labeled, or advertised as containing bear gallbladders or bile.”
To obtain bear bile, bears are locked in cages the size of their own bodies and their bile is drained through a painful procedure. It is sold for use in traditional Asian medicine. Some bears are kept caged for up to 25 years. Bear bile farmers often mutilate the bears by breaking their teeth and pulling out their claws, so the farmers won’t be harmed when approaching the bear cages. In addition, some farmers amputate one or two paws from live bears to sell to restaurants.
Bears show their distress and suffering by banging their heads against the cage bars, gnawing on the bars, and at times tearing the flesh from their paws and arms. The sores bleed, resulting in serious infection. Bears are usually milked twice a day, before feeding, when more bile is produced. They moan and writhe in pain and clutch their stomachs as the bile drains from their bodies. Sometimes the bears try to pull out the catheters. Those who do are immobilized in an iron corset.
Hawaii residents, contact your legislators and urge them to pass this important legislation. Ask that they be among other state legislators who believe such practices are inhumane.