This certainly seems to be the case with the decision by a Chinese pharmaceutical company to create a synthetic alternative to bear bile, using poultry bile and “biotransformation technology”.
Prior to this, the US has managed to synthetically reproduce ursodeoxycholic acid, the active ingredient in bear bile known to have healing properties. These alternative forms are currently even being prescribed for specific diseases.
Bear bile used in traditional medicine is typically harvested from the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), or most commonly known as the moon bear. However, bear farms have also grown to include sun bears (Herlarctos malayanus), driving the wild population for both species down.
While bear farms claim to breed their own bears, there is cause for concern that bears are still poached from the wild due to injuries similar to bears caught in snares.
As bear bile is often constantly harvested through open wounds and rusty metal catheters that cause infections to the animals, the bile is believed to be tainted by pus and feces from the unhygienic cage environment.
Ultimately, the fate of these bears lies in the balance as it is up to consumers and practitioners to make the shift towards alternatives and lessen demand for wildlife products as curatives.
Know of a loved one who still believes in consuming bear bile? Request for a synthetic alternative from a trusted medical practitioner and do your part in refusing wildlife products! Help spread the message of these less cruel forms of medication and there might be hope for these bears soon.