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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Chinese manufacturer to open bear farm to quell criticism

(Xinhua)

09:12, February 22, 2012

HUI'AN, Fujian, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese manufacturer of bear bile products said Tuesday that it will open one of its bear farms to the media Wednesday morning, a move aimed at quelling public criticism of its operations and planned initial public offering (IPO).

Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., which makes medicine using bile extracted from live bears, has been attacked over the last couple of weeks for what animal rights activists have referred to as "brutal bile extraction."

Animal rights organizations and netizens have also called on securities regulators to reject Guizhentang's IPO bid.

Guizhentang said in a statement that journalists will be able to visit a black bear habitat and watch the bile extraction process starting from 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, followed by a 10 a.m. discussion with relevant experts.

Fang Shuting, head of the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, triggered an uproar on the Internet and escalated the controversy after he compared bile extraction operations to "turning on a tap" at a press conference last Thursday.

"The process of extracting bear bile is as easy, natural and painless as turning on a tap. After the operations were completed, the bears went outside and played together happily. I think there was nothing unusual, and (they were) even quite comfortable," Fang said, recalling his experience in witnessing the operations.

Bear bile, a popular ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is believed to cure liver and eye ailments, remove toxins and eliminate fevers.

Bear farms, which began to thrive in China in the early 1980s, remain legal in the country, although calls for eliminating the industry have mounted in recent years.

China has 68 legal bear farms with more than 10,000 bears, 6,000 to 8,000 of which are old and large enough to undergo bile extraction operations, according to Fang.

Founded in 2000 and based in east China's Fujian province, Guizhentang is among the country's largest producers of bear bile products, according to the company's website.

Boasting the largest bear breeding center in south China, the company has more than 400 bears on its farm and breeds more than 100 cubs each year. The funds raised through an IPO will help increase the company's breeding capacity to 1,200 bears, producing 4,000 kg of bear bile annually.

The company previously attempted to go public in February 2011, but failed amid fierce public opposition.

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