South Korea: 2 Bears Killed After Escaping from ‘Farm’

Although extraction of bile from live bears is illegal in Korea, captive bears are slaughtered at ten years of age so their bile can be “harvested”.

Two female bears were shot dead after escaping from their cages at a suspected bear bile farm in Yongin, south of Seoul.

Following a search by police, hunters and hunting dogs, one bear was killed on Saturday and the other on Sunday, according to the Straits Times.

A similar tragedy occurred earlier this year.

The organization Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) reported that a female bear (“found to have a tube inserted into her neck”) was shot and killed in April after she escaped from the same farm.

Extracting bile from live bears is illegal in Korea, so bears are raised in captivity and then slaughtered for their bile when they reach ten years of age.

KARA says that the farm has been operating since 2003 and has 105 moon bears.

Although the Korean government has approved a proposal to end bear farming, a specific timeline has not been provided.

The IUCN classifies the moon bear (Ursus thibetanus) as Vulnerable, but notes that only “a small remnant population exists in South Korea”.


Photo © iStockphoto.com

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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.