Tuffy the bear was rescued in September 2015 on the same day as six other bears from a bile farm in Vietnam.
According to a CBS News report, bear bile contains a high concentration of ursodeoxycholic acid. A synthetic version is sold as a pill and used in Western medicine for treating gallstones and liver ailments.
The bears were housed in small cages, and the green bitter fluid was sucked from their gall bladders using crude catheters, sometimes creating pus-filled abscesses or internal bile leakage. Many bears die slowly from infections or liver ailments, including cancer.
Tuffy's gall bladder was so damaged it had to be removed. Examinations also found numerous gallstones and he had three fractured teeth removed. He also had painful, dry, cracked paws.
Animals Asia Bear Manager Louise Ellis said:
“The cracked paws are common to bile farm bears as they only walk on bars, not grass. Dehydration is likely to have contributed to this too. So for his carers to see him take to the pool so quickly after he first became ready to face the outdoors was an amazing moment.
“Coming from years of little or no water, for Tuffy this must feel like a true oasis after being parched and in pain for so long. It must have felt like such a relief to have the freedom to splash around in the water after only being able to stand on the hard metal bars of the bile farm cage.”
Animalsasia.org states there are still around 1,200 bears in bile farms in Vietnam and over 10,000 more in China. Animals Asia has rescued nearly 600 bears from the bile industry and continues to care for almost 400.
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