Will help re-locate bears
I WOULD like to correct the report regarding Mr Jimmy Lai's caged black bear which appeared in the South China Morning Post, on July 6.
I was reported as saying that if the bear was sent to a breeding centre it would be fed with Chinese medicine.
My statement in fact expressed the International Fund for Animal Welfare's concern that the bear would be bred for Chinese medicine - a common practice in China, Japan and South Korea.
I was also quoted as stating that bears ''hunt and feed themselves and would like to stay with their families''.
In their natural habitat Asiatic black bears, or Moon bears are mostly guided by their crescent moon-shaped chest markings; sleeping in caves during the day, and foraging, hunting, mating and even swimming over wide areas at night.
Unlike other bears, Moon bear cubs are known to stay with their parents long after the standard 18-20 months.
Thus it was cruel and irresponsible of Mr Lai to keep a solitary bear in total confinement, a confinement which did not cater for its natural habitat or behaviour.
The IFAW has mounted an international campaign, calling on the Chinese Government to extend its responsible gesture of banning rhino horn and tiger bone by also banning the farming and trading of Asiatic black bears all belonging on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) appendix I.
We have recently highlighted a bear farm in Zhuhai and have offered our assistance to the Mayor of Zhuhai in addressing the problem of re-locating and integrating the bears in a wildlife sanctuary should the farm be eventually closed by the Government.
In this context, we should like to similarly address the problem of finding a more suitable environment for Mr Lai's bear - other than the ''breeding centre'' currently under consideration.
JILL ROBINSON Asia Representative International Fund for Animal Welfare