UserpicBears as Medicine

I was delighted to welcome Marc Bekoff to the University of Miami earlier this week. As some of you may know, I've been a big fan of Marc's work for a long time (and, indeed, blogged about his book Wild Justice a few months ago). But every silver cloud has a dark lining. This one was my being forced to acknowledge something that had been hovering nastily in the back of my mind for some time, but I didn't want to think about it because it sickened me.

Imagine being put in a cage no bigger than you are. You can turn your head, in order to access food and water, but that is the limit of your movement. Now imagine being there for fifteen or twenty years. In fact, if you get out after fifteen or twenty years, you're one of the lucky ones - you got out early. Chances are, you'll be there until you die. There is a catheter inserted into your liver, and from it drips the bile that is the reason you find yourself in this cage.

If you find yourself in this position, you are a bear, harvested for your bile, which is highly prized in Chinese medicine.

I know I've been bashing China a lot this week. Just celebrating the Year of the Tiger that starts on Feb 14th. I'm sure I'll find some other country to knock soon.

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