Bear in a cage, black and white image.

Ending the Bear Bile Industry

We work in Asia to end cruelty to bears and the unnecessary bear bile industry–and we won’t stop till we’ve achieved it.

The bear bile industry


Bears in Asia are captured for their bile, which is extracted using cruel, painful procedures and sold as traditional medicine. These captive bears suffer in filthy and cramped conditions, often in cages no bigger than phone booths. But the bear bile industry is completely unnecessary. Plentiful and inexpensive synthetic and herbal alternatives to bear bile are readily available.


The bear bile industry causes intense, unjustified suffering to bears across Asia–and you help us put a stop to it.

Needless cruelty to bears

Bear bile is extracted in intolerably cruel and inhumane ways, often by people with no veterinary qualifications and little concern for animal protection. Some bears face this cruelty throughout their lives. That can mean 20 years of torture–unless the bears succumb to infection, tumors, or self-inflicted wounds. Bears in the bear bile industry often moan and rock due to extreme anxiety. Many have broken teeth from biting on the bars of their cages.

Together, we can create lasting change to prevent the severe pain and psychological distress suffered by bears in the bear bile industry.

A bear laying in a cage, with evidence of hair loss.

This bear has lost fur, possibly due to the stress of living in cramped conditions. World Animal Protection trained a local veterinary team in Hanoi, Vietnam (which we co-fund with the Hanoi Forestry Protection Department), to insert microchips that helps prevent new bears being poached from the wild and used in the bile industry.

Bear bile: our work

We are committed to ending the exploitation of bears in the bear bile industry and to protecting wild bears from a lifetime of suffering in captivity. Our work includes:

  • Joining with partners, including governments, global bodies, local partners, and individuals, to stop bears from being exploited and to create lasting change
  • Promoting better welfare for captive bears while we move to end the bear bile industry for good
  • Seeking laws, policies, monitoring, and enforcement to ensure that captive bears are given space to move, provided with richer environments, and are protected from all forms of bile extraction and exploitation
  • Raising awareness about alternatives to bear bile, including herbal and synthetic products, which are readily available, affordable, and effective
  • Working with local organizations to urge governments to live up to their international commitments to protect bears and other wild animals
  • Rescuing bears who are being surrendered or held illegally and moving them alongside partners to bear sanctuaries

Meet Tu Do: Her Rescue Just Ended Bear Bile in Son La Province, Vietnam


Tu Do, the bear, was voluntarily surrendered by her owner to a sanctuary after World Animal Protection negotiations.

World Animal Protection US

Bear Rescue: We Help Save Five Bears from the Cruel Bear Bile Industry in Vietnam


After 13 years of pain and suffering in captivity, a group of Asiatic black bears have been rescued from the horrific abuse of bear bile farming

World Animal Protection US

Two Bear Cubs in Romania Are Safe, Thanks to You


You just helped rescue two tiny bear cubs from the forests of Romania. Now, thanks to your generosity, these babies will be safe and cared for.

World Animal Protection US

Bear bile farming campaign history

Through our “Wildlife. Not Medicine” campaign, we have nearly ended the bear bile industry in South Korea and are on track to stop it in Vietnam, too.

  • Between 2003 and 2021, we successfully campaigned to end the bear bile industry in South Korea. In 2022, the South Korean Ministry of Environment made a commitment to prohibit bear bile farming bile extraction from 2026. Conditions have now been met to bring about a meaningful end to bear farming in the country.
  • Following pressure from World Animal Protection and other NGOs, in 2005 the Vietnamese government outlawed bile farming in Vietnam. But because it's still legal for farmers to keep the bears already on their farms, illegal bile production continues. However, since World Animal Protection and its partners started working in Vietnam there has been a 94% reduction of bears on bile farms. Now, just hundreds of bears remain trapped compared to the thousands before. World Animal Protection continues to work until every cage is free. 
  • Looking ahead, World Animal Protection is taking on a new campaign in China where an estimated 20,000 bears are being used for bile production. It’s a big challenge, but we have the plan and track record to bring about change.

Support our work to protect bears by giving a generous gift today.

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Infographic of how donations help bears.