Karen Mok battles for the bears

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 March, 2007, 12:00am

Human depravities are as varied as our imagination, but one that I find truly mind-boggling is bear bile 'farming', which, as you should know by now, is practised on an industrial scale on the mainland, in Vietnam and most probably in North Korea. And the worst is that it is legal.

I have never been ashamed of being Chinese or Asian, but on this one I am.

Thousands of Asiatic moon bears are trapped for years in coffin-sized cages where they are milked for their bile through catheters or permanently open holes in their abdomens. They cannot move and driven to madness, mutilate themselves. But, if as Proust says, our first reaction to suffering is to turn away, I am also gratified that so many people I know or have heard from actually have done something about it once they learnt about bear farming.

I am glad actress Karen Mok Man-wai (pictured, centre) is using her fame to publicise the animals' plight through Animals Asia, a group which has helped free hundreds of bears from captivity on the mainland.

'I came across this article on the moon bears, bear bile and this whole business,' she said. 'I had no idea that in order to get this bear bile, you have to make these animals suffer so much. I mean, imagine, they're being kept in these cages for years on end and I was just so shocked. Unless consumers stop buying bear bile products, this brutal industry will never die. So, please, please think before you buy.'

Mok is featured in a one-hour Moon Bears: Journey to Freedom documentary on Discovery Channel: 8pm on Sunday, March 11 and 10pm on Monday, March 12.