Stores pull bear-bile products

China Daily, February 20, 2012

Dozens of drug stores in China have stopped selling bear bile products after a company accused of torturing bears to extract bile became the center of a storm of criticism over a shares issue plan.

A black bear is locked in an iron cage barely, waiting for bile extraction at a bear farm. [File photo]

TCM stores in Chengdu in Sichuan Province and Shenyang in Liaoning Province no longer have bear bile products on sale.

In Shanghai, the Caitongde and Tonghanchun pharmacies said they did not sell bile products, while the Leiyunshang Pharmacy only sold a pill said to improve eyesight that contained bile.

Animal welfare groups and members of the public have been protesting against the shares issue plan by Fujian Province-based Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Development Co Ltd. It keeps 470 bears to extract bile for traditional Chinese medicine.

Qiu Shuhua, the company's founder, said the method used to extract bile was legal and replaced one where bears had to be killed. The company's website says it can collect bile in five to eight minutes "without causing the bears pain."

It plans to use cash raised from selling shares to expand the size of its farm and increase the number of bears to 1,200.

At the weekend, the company posted an invitation to visit its farm and watch the process of harvesting bear bile on its website. "A total of 100 guests and reporters would be invited to visit and report the environment of our bear farms objectively on Wednesday and Friday," the company said.

It said it would receive media reporters on Wednesday and representatives of the People's Congress, political advisers, experts, scholars and non-government organization workers on animal welfare on Friday.

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