Fact Check

Bear Farms Petition

Sign a petition to stop bear farming in China.

Published Jul 26, 2000

Petition:   Bile is extracted from bears at Chinese bear farms.

Status:   True.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2000]

Please read this and, if you feel strongly about it, do the following . . .

We ask the Chinese government for compassion.

Today in China 10,000 (ten thousand) bears are kept prisoner for extracting bile form their gall bladders.

The bears are kept in a horizontal position, in cages that look rather like coffins . They wear a metal collar and are held down by pressure bars. A catheter is introduced into their body that continuously absorbs the liquid from their gall bladders.. The bears cannot change their position and remain in this condition of permanent pain between 15 and 20 years!

We cannot accept this cruelty, torture and barbarism to continue and be part of the life of these poor bears for another minute.

With their paw they take some food through a little opening in the cage. To quench their thirst they have to stretch their tongue to lick the bars of their prison. They suffer excruciating pain as they have to stay for an average of 15 years in the same position that deforms their bones.

We are talking about 15 years or 180 months, or 5,475 days, or 131,400 hours or 78,844,000 minutes of continuous pain. The bile serves a disgusting market: it is used to produce shampoos, aphrodisiacs and 'miraculous' remedies. During the extraction of the liquid, a tube is inserted in the gall bladder; one end of the tube stays outside the belly of the bear, linked to a machine that extracts the bile.

The suffering of the animal exceeds the imagination : the bear wishes death, mutilates himself and tries to commit suicide.

For further information visit: https://www.geocities.com/Baja/2324/index.html   (Click the English version)

To help, you just need to copy this email and sign the list below, which calls for the immediate end of the horrific "Bile Farms" - then send this message to as many people as possible. Thanks again.

Once this list reaches 100, please send to


Origins:   In response to the question "Is this petition real?" we propose that audiences consider four separate questions:

  1. Does this petition address a valid issue?

  2. Does the petition include information about how the signatures are to be collected?

  3. Does the petition include information about how it will be used?

  4. Is this petition likely to produce any positive results?

1) Is bear farming a "real" issue? It is in the sense that plenty of evidence demonstrates that bear farms do exist in China (where "China" can mean either the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China, also referred to as "mainland China" and "Taiwan," respectively). Whether the existence of these farms is an issue you should act upon (by signing a petition, for example) depends upon your attitude towards animals. Do you believe that all uses of animals for human gain are wrong? Do you believe that using animals is acceptable for "necessary" purposes (such as food), but not for "frivolous" ones (such as fur coats)? Do you believe that using animals is acceptable as long as the animals are treated humanely? Do your answers to these questions depend upon the type of animal involved? These are all questions only you can answer.

2) Yes, this petition includes instructions that it should be forwarded to a central e-mail address every time 100 "signatures" have been collected.

3) No, this petition says nothing about how it will be used. It offers no information to tell us who will deliver it, how it will be delivered, when it will be delivered, or to whom it will be presented.

4) The lack of information about #3 makes it difficult to gauge the likelihood of success of this petition, but the attitude of the probable recipients (the Chinese government) is something to be considered: How will they react to a petition demanding the "immediate end of the horrific 'Bile Farms'"? How sensitive are they to (international) public pressure? How are bear farms regarded by the cultures in which they exist? Does the fact that these farms continue to profit because their products have ready buyers indicate that these cultures find bear farms less abhorrent than we do? These are important points to consider, but the petition doesn't address


In general, people consider petitions such as this one to be beneficial even if they produce no real results, because they raise social awareness and provide an outlet for those who feel strongly about issues and want to have a sense that they're "doing something" about them. The drawbacks to this approach have to be taken into account as well, however. Think about how Americans would react if their government were delivered a petition signed by thousands of Hindus, demanding an end to the practice of raising cattle for beef. Would such a petition raise Americans' social conscience about an important "animal rights" issue, or would it be more likely to inflame them to the point of strongly uniting against an idea that might have succeeded with a less confrontational approach?

We have no "right" answers to offer; it's up to individuals to consider all the issues involved and decide whether signing this petition is the right thing to do. We will point out a recent newswire story (linked below) indicates that China has already "pledged to rescue 500 bears held in cages for their bile as a first step in wiping out the age-old practice." Will they follow through? Will a petition like this one be more likely to speed up or hinder the process? More points to consider.

Additional Information:

    China to rescue 500 captive bears, end bile farms
  China to Rescue 500 Captive Bears, End Bile Farms   (CNN.com)

Last updated:   15 December 2007

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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