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Rights group opposes China bear-bile listing

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 15, 2011
An animal rights group said Tuesday it has urged authorities in China to block the possible stock listing of a company that farms the bile of bears for medicinal purposes, citing cruelty to animals.

The Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation said the Guizhentang pharmaceutical company in southeast China's Fujian province is hoping to raise 70 million yuan (10.6 million dollars) through a listing in order to increase production of bear bile.

"Bear farming is a cruel and unnecessary industry which causes both physical and psychological suffering to thousands of bears caged on farms across (China)," Animals Asia said in a statement.

"To extract bile from their bodies, bears are subjected to crude surgery which creates permanent wounds through their abdominal wall and into their gall bladders."

Bear bile has long been used in China and other Asian countries to treat fevers, liver disease, eye problems and other health problems, but its efficacy has been widely questioned by the scientific community.

An estimated 7,000-10,000 bears still languish in bile farms across China, Animals Asia said.

The group has appealed to the Fujian's securities regulator to block the listing, it said.

Guizhentang's website said the company farms 470 bears and hopes to increase the number to 1,200 following the listing in order to step up annual production of bear bile to 4,000 tonnes.

Calls to the company went unanswered on Tuesday.

Since 2000, Animals Asia has worked with Chinese wildlife authorities to end bile farming and runs a facility in southwestern China housing more than 350 bears that have been rescued from farms, the group said.

The Animals Asia campaign has also garnered widespread coverage in the Chinese press with official newspapers like the Beijing News, the Legal Daily and the website of the People's Daily reporting on the opposition to Guizhentang's possible listing.

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