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February 20, 2018 - GruntVegan


PyeongChang draws attention to plight of the Asiatic black bear

PyeongChang draws attention to plight of the Asiatic black bear

There has been a lot of attention given to “Bandabi”, the name of PyeongChang's olympic mascot.

But the Asiatic bear, the inspiration for the Olympic mascot, also know as moon bears for the crescent shape on their chest, is the very species suffering on bile farms.

According to Jill Robinson, a veterinarian and founder and CEO of Animals Asia, there are roughly 1,000 bears kept on these farms in South Korea.

“It’s our hope that the cute and cuddly cartoon moon bear mascot named ‘Bandabi’ will serve as an ambassador of sorts for actual moon bears in South Korea, whose lives are anything but idyllic and cute,” Robinson told USA Today Sports. “Bear farming is an extremely cruel and inhumane practice that has no place in modern society.”

Robinson goes on to explain that the "way in which these bears are farmed is particularly cruel". Her organization has been working, along with other nonprofits, to try to end the practice of bear-bile farming in China, Vietnam and South Korea. "This is an issue that I sort of discovered way back in 1993 when I walked onto a bear-bile farm for the first time in my life and was just absolutely horrified by what I saw," she reports to NPR. "Cages and cages all around me, with bears with the most miserable faces, with 6-inch catheters protruding from their abdomens. Their teeth cut back, their paw tips cut back so that they couldn't hurt the farmers as they were extracting the bile." 

Since then, South Korea has banned the practice of milking bears for bile while they are alive. But South Korean law still allows for these bears, which can have a lifespan of 25 years, to be killed at age 10, so bile can then be harvested from their gallbladders.

Animal activists are hoping that the attention the olympics are giving the Asiatic bear will lead to change in South Korea, as well as China and Vietnam which also have these bear farms.


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