WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) is working with the Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) community to end the use of bear bile by promoting effective herbal and synthetic alternatives.
The bile tradeBears are the only mammals to produce large amounts of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), the active ingredient in bear bile.
Bear farms emerged in the 1980's as a cost effective way to meet the demand for UDCA, which has been used to treat kidney problems and stomach and digestive disorders.
More recently bear bile has been added to non-medicinal products such as wine and shampoo.
Since the 1980's, the number of bears farmed in Asia has increased. Official figures from the region show around 12,000 bears are held in farms.
The conditions are enclosed, barren and lead to physical and mental illness.