The Fight for Moon Bear Justice: Changing the Paradigm of Bear Bile Farming

They are called "moon bears" because of the moon shape on their chest Photograph by Ethan Crawford

They are called “moon bears” because of the moon shape on their chest
Photograph by Ethan Crawford

On Saturday, July 27, 2013, we visited the Moon Bear Rescue Center,
founded by Jill Robinson, an adamant supporter against bear bile
farming all over the world, especially in China. Bear bile is used throughout China in household products like soaps and toothpaste,as well as in making wine and traditional medicine. The gallbladders of black bears are manipulated by humans as they endure being crammed in barred-cages, unable to move or escape (see photo below). In order to prevent a bear from scratching at the open wound, his or her head is held in place by a metal rod. This torture continues until most of the bile is extracted.

a close up of a cage used to milk bears of their bile

a close up of a cage used to milk bears of their bile

Once a practice fully accepted and supported by Chinese culture, the awareness of the cruelty imposed on these black bears is becoming increasingly evident as time passes. After hearing Jill speak at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work before beginning our internship in June, Kristen and I were both anticipating seeing gruesome scars and a depressed disposition from these majestic creatures. We were pleasantly surprised at the sanctuary-feel that is the Moon Bear Rescue Center in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Veterinarians live on-site and are able to attend to any of the animals’ needs at any point in the day. The black bears that are able to be rescued go through a period of rehabilitation, followed by re-introduction into enclosures with other black bears.

They will never be able to run free in their wild habitats due to the post-traumatic stress caused by humans’ hands.

cage used to milk bile from bears



This picture illustrates the size of the cage that the bears live in on bile farms that do not allow for the bears to move around. The bears on these farms spend up to 30 years in these cages.





The black bears treated at the Moon Bear Rescue Center are given medication and appropriate food in order to rehabilitate. We were in awe of the facilities grandiose space for these bears to feel as free as possible.

Happy moon bears at the sanctuary

Moon bears roaming freely in their enclosures, and enjoying their new life at the Moon Bear Rescue Center.

 For more information about these black bears, as well as other cruelties practiced on dogs and cats, read more at:






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