Bears in Laos are being kept in cages so small some of the bears cannot even stand upright. The bears are held for the extraction of their bile. Bear bile is used in many forms of medicine in Asia, however the curing is mostly wives tale. The Asian culture using the bear bile believes possible cure everywhere from hangovers to cancer. The extraction of bear bile was made illegal in Vietnam, but many of the people with operations in Vietnam moved them into Laos.
The way they go about holding the bears is sickening. Cages are barely big enough for the bears to live in. Fiona MacGregor opened her article describing the conditions she was seeing first hand, the bears standing cages in their own urine. As far as the extraction itself there are several different methods. One method in use has a catheter directly into the gall bladder of the bear, and it is permanently connected as the bears are caged laying down and live years of their lives laying down connected to a bile extractor. In the past Asianic Black Bears were killed for their bile, so they believe their current method of keeping the bears alive is more humane.
Title: Inside a bear bile farm in Laos
Publication: The Telegraph, August 19 2010
Author: Fiona MacGregor
Student Researcher: Chris Riske, Sonoma State University
Evaluator: Tyler Lewis, Biologist, Sonoma State University