A DRUGS company accused of torturing bears to extract their bile is under fire as it attempts to become publicly listed for the second time.
Fujian Province-based Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Development Co Ltd, which keeps 470 bears to extract bile to make traditional Chinese medicine, appeared on a list of 220 companies awaiting approval to trade on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
China SOS Help, a non-government animal rights organization, soon announced they had collected up to 120 million yuan (US$19.06 million) to buy shares in the company to stop it from going public.
"It will be impossible for China to abolish bile extracting from bears if the company managed to go public, so it is a matter of life and death for the suffering bears," Bai Yipeng, the founder of the organization said on its microblog.
Bai said he had sent an offer to three major investors in the drug company and hoped those shareholders would make the "right" decision by accepting within 10 days.
"The country's image would be affected if the company goes public," said Xi Zhinong, founder of the conservation group Wild China.
Online, many protesters said the company's bid for funds meant that more bears would be tortured.
According to its website, the company is to use the cash raised by the IPO to expand the size of its farm and increase the number of its bears to 1,200.
Qiu Shuhua, founder of Guizhentang, told Xinhua news agency that she was unfamiliar with details of the company's IPO plan, while other senior officials declined to comment.
Guizhentang's first attempt to go public, in February last year, triggered furious protests from animal rights groups.
However, the company argued that the method they used to extract bile was legal and replaced the traditional one where bears had to be killed first. On its website, Guizhentang says it can collect bile in five to eight minutes "without causing the bears pain."
However, the Animals Asia Foundation said bile extraction, which involves inserting a catheter into a bear's abdomen, causes great suffering. It also said that bear bile products were a threat to people's health as most of the bears suffered from wound infections.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, bear bile helps cure ailments such as eye and liver problems. Bear bile powder can sell for as much as 4,000 yuan a kilogram.