In China and much of Southeast Asia, bile from several species of bear, particularly one colloquially called the moon bear, is an expensive commodity. The bear’s bile, or its entire gall bladder, in some cases, can fetch lucrative sums on black markets, due to its reputed importance in traditional medicine. The interest in the bear’s bile continues to present day, even though modern medical research has yet to find a conclusive link between bear bile and any sort of health benefits.
Bile is digestive matter, produced by the gall bladder. So, you might be wondering how, exactly, that bile gets extracted. Well, sometimes it involves the death of the bear, and other times it involves the bear being kept in captivity, with the bile taken out with the use of modified catheters. Either way, it’s not pleasant, shortens the natural life span of the bears, and, because of heightened interest in profit-seeking, threatens to render the bears endangered or extinct over time.
AnimalsAsia has been leading the fight against the practice for some time, and they’ve recently partnered up with Microsoft to develop educational material. Using Internet Explorer 11 and HTML5, they created ‘Exploring Moon Bears,’ a website that looks more like a storybook. The website has largely been developed for Chinese students, and follows Jasper, a rescued moon bear. Kids learn about Jasper, moon bears in the wild, and, ultimately, what Jasper was rescued from.
This mirrors AnimalsAsia’s own efforts. They’ve rescued hundreds of bears over their 15 years of existence, moving them to one of many sanctuaries in China where they can recover from the ill effects of captivity.