The case for bears in Korea is truly tragic. While native Korean moon bears are virtually extinct in the wild, more than 1400 bears are kept captive in farms, "milked" for bile and exploited for other body parts.
Moon bears, also known as Asiatic Black Bears, once thrived throughout the Korean peninsula. But after years of poaching and habitat encroachment, these majestic animals face extinction. A small population of 11 bears lives at Jirisan National Park, but evidence of poaching abounds and the government has failed to adequately protect the animals.
Though Korea's Ministry of Environment has pledged to slowly restore moon bears in Jirisan National Park, they have turned their backs on the bears surviving in farms, instead protecting the interests of the bear farmers and profiteers. Not only are bear farms legal within Korea, but they are rarely inspected or monitored for adherence to codes of humane care and adequate facilities. It is believed that many of the bears in farms are illegally milked for bile through catheter attached directly to their gall bladders.
To learn more about the history and conditions of Korea's bear farms, view the article from our newsletter archives.