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Microsoft's New Interactive Website Reveals Plight of Bear Bile Farming in China

Feb 01, 2014 03:05 PM EST

Software giant Microsoft has teamed with an animal rights group to make a new contribution to the fight against animal cruelty by releasing an interactive website that reveals the plight of China's moon bears, thousands of which are farmed for their bile.

The controversial practice of bile farming has drawn the ire of animal rights activists because the bears are kept in small cages that restrict their movement and forced to endure inhumane conditions like having a metal catheter permanently inserted into their livers.

According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), there are thousands of bears being held in bile farms across East and Southeast Asia, mainly in China and Vietnam. Bear bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine, where doctors prescribe it as a treatment for inflammatory conditions

"The bears in these factories are visibly in severe distress. They are often hurt or scarred from repeatedly rubbing or hitting themselves against the bars of the extraction cages, the WSPA states on its website. "Factory workers prevent bears from hibernating - they are often kept in spare concrete yards that provide no comfort."

Moon bears, also know as Asiatic black bears, are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

The new bear bile-farming awareness campaign is a joint effort of Microsoft and Animals Asia, a non-profit dedicated to ending bear bile-farming and improving animal welfare.

The website, found at http://moonbear.animalsasia.org/ie/en/, tells the story of Jasper the Bear in a series of three virtual story books. The stories report on the bile-farming industry and the nature of black bears. The site is available in Chinese and English

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