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A second life for Vietnam's bile bears

Extracted from the animal with a long needle inserted into the gall bladder on illegal bear farms in Vietnam and China, the endangered Asiatic black bear -- also known as Moon Bears because of the crescent of white fur on their chest - is subjected to a slow death from infection and disease in tiny cages that restrict their movements.

"In Vietnam, men in particular mix bear bile with rice wine because they believe it makes them stronger and able to drink more," says Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam director of Animals Asia, an animal welfare group.

"It's been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years and there are claims that it can cure everything from hangovers, liver cirrhosis to cancer," he says.

"People mix it with alcohol and rub it on their skin to reduce swelling. To that extent, we acknowledge that it does work, but there are alternatives; cortisone, for example, or even Dencorub." Read More

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