Two moon bears have been 'adopted' by the sister-in-law of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, an expression of her belief that not only is bear bile farming cruel and unnecessary but also that the substance is harmful to people who take it as a health remedy. Bear bile is often used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for liver ailments. But Harriet Tung, who recently visited a moon bear rescue centre in Sichuan province, said vets at the sanctuary were finding that many bears had liver cancer and warned that the bile - which contained blood, faeces and pus - could hardly be healthy for humans. Mrs Tung, the wife of shipping magnate Tung Chee-chen, said the bear bile was easily replaced with safer synthetic or herbal alternatives. 'I'm not particularly an animals person,' she said. 'I eat meat, I've worn fur, I don't particularly go out into nature. I like staying inside. But on this issue, I wanted to become involved after watching a documentary on bear bile farming. Not only is bear bile farming cruel - because you are torturing the bears - but the product probably isn't any good for you. 'Unfortunately very little research has been done in this area as of yet,' she said. 'But if the vets here are finding repeated cases of liver cancer in the bears farmed for their bile, what does that say about what bear bile is doing to people who take it as medicine?' Mrs Tung visited the China Bear Rescue centre near Chengdu on February 7 and 8. The centre is run by the Hong Kong-based and government-registered Animals Asia Foundation, founded by Jill Robinson, who is also its chairman. Mrs Tung observed as 13 bears confiscated from a farmer in Dujiangyan, by the Sichuan Forestry Department, were offloaded from a truck, still in their rusty cages, at the Animals Asia's Moon Bear Rescue Centre. The foundation often buys the bears from farmers, but in this case the bears were confiscated by the government after the farmer broke regulations. Bile dripped from holes cut in the bears' stomachs. Mrs Tung said she would sponsor two bears from that batch. 'I want to name them after Dong Fang Hai Wai [Orient Overseas or OOCL], so that if my husband comes to visit the sanctuary, I can say to him, here are your bears!' During her two-day visit, Mrs Tung observed the vets conduct health checks on the bears arriving at the centre. The checks, under general anaesthetic, were according to the condition of the bears. One bear that had trouble breathing as its cage was pulled from the truck was later found to have an enlarged liver and huge amounts of fluid in its lungs and stomach. It had to be put down. 'It is extremely difficult to witness the euthanasia of a bear that arrived in poor condition,' Mrs Tung said. The foundation has rescued 260 bears from bile farms so far.