The thought of any animal in captivity is a terrible one, especially if those animals are also being tortured. Anyone with a sense of empathy or compassion would do whatever they could to save the life of a struggling creature if they had the opportunity.

One brown bear kept for years in a “torture vest” at a Chinese bile farm faced a bleak existence. Thankfully, rescuers came to her aid, but not before they witnessed living conditions that were a shocking reminder of how terrible Asia’s bile industry is for animals.

Even though spending an afternoon at the zoo is fun, the idea of keeping any animal in captivity is upsetting. Animals are meant to roam free in the wild with their species, not peer out through chain link fences at large crowds of spectators.

While most zoo employees treat their animals with respect, there have been plenty of cases of reported abuse throughout the world. As much as we’d like to think everyone is empathetic to an animal’s needs, that simply isn’t the case.

One country with many reports of animal abuse and mistreatment over the years is China. While it isn’t prevalent everywhere, there are certain places known as animal bile farms where the conditions are atrocious.

Bears are very often held captive inside these nightmarish environments. They’re forced to live in cages barely big enough to fit in, and catheters extract bile directly from their gall bladders. It’s just as painful as it sounds.

Just the thought of what these animals go through is enough to give anyone nightmares. So, why exactly are people keeping these animals in cramped cages and collecting their bile through extremely painful methods? 

Believe it or not, bile is extracted for use in traditional Chinese medicine. When most people imagine ancient Chinese healing, methods like acupuncture and moxibustion come to mind. They don’t think about the much darker world of bile farming.

The bear bile these farms collect are sold in tablet form and liquid form. People who believe in this traditional medicine claim the bile helps with a variety of ailments, including sore throats, gallstones, liver problems, and even poor eyesight. But, is bile absolutely necessary to improve one’s health?

While some cultures firmly believe so, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of herbal and synthetic alternatives with the same medicinal properties, and no animals have to suffer.

For years, a brown bear named Caesar suffered this miserable existence on a Chinese bile farm. Trapped in a “torture” vest meant to constantly extract fluid from her gallbladder, she was in pain every moment of her life. 

Fortunately, an animal rescue organization called Animals Asia heard about the horrific life Caesar was enduring, and they were able to stage a rescue and prevent her imminent death. As expected, she was untrusting of humans, and this made her rescue difficult.

The Animals Asia team tranquilized Caesar and began the process of removing the metal vest that caused her so much pain over the years. They would eventually transport her to their sanctuary where she could start rebuilding a new life.

The team, although pleased Caesar was finally in good hands, was also disgusted someone could put a beautiful animal through so much suffering. They pried open the metal vest and found a crude latex catheter to siphon the bile out of her body and a box to collect the bile.  

A representative from the organization said that Caesar’s situation was the worst imaginable form of bile farm torture. Caesar was lucky to escape, as most bile farm bears, unfortunately, never do.

 It didn’t take long after Caesar was rescued to look like an entirely different bear! Her health quickly returned, she seemed happy, her coat was shiny again, and her overall attitude changed entirely.

Her physical scars eventually diminished to the point where she no longer looked like an animal who suffered in captivity. These days, Caesar enjoys swimming in the sunshine and lounging around the grounds at Animals Asia’s compound.

The type of vest that Caesar was forced to wear while she was being held captive has since been outlawed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t animals still wearing them. It’s likely the vests are still being used for their original purpose.

With all the leaps and bounds modern medicine has made over recent years, we know there are plenty of ways to care for our bodies, specifically livers and gallbladders, that don’t require the painful and inhumane extraction of bile.

For example, drinking green tea is a fantastic way to improve health. It’s loaded with antioxidants and helps with liver detoxification. Turmeric is great for the liver, too. Incorporating these simple items into your diet is a great and safe way to maintain a healthy self.

 Now that Caesar has made a full recovery, her time spent suffering is only a memory to her. She’s able to roam the sanctuary grounds at Animals Asia without a care in the world!

Most bears who end up inside the horrific confines of bile farms never get an opportunity to live in their natural habitat again. Fortunately, the popularity of these places has significantly decreased, but there are still villages where you can find them.

To help ensure the safety of other bears just like Caesar, you can make a donation to Animals Asia.

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