Mother bear strangled cub then killed herself to escape bile farm

AN ABUSED mama bear strangled her cub to death before running into a wall to kill herself in a desperate bid to avoid a life of torture, it is claimed.

The tortured animals were living in captivity on a farm in a remote part of north-west China, painfully having their gall bladders milked daily for bile - which is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The bears were being kept in tiny 'crush cages' - restricting their movementCredit: AFP

It's reported the mother and her cub were being kept in tiny cages - branded "crush cages" due to their size and how they stop the creatures from moving about.

Hearing her cub in distress as a worker went to puncture its stomach, the mother reportedly broke free from her cage.

She then rushed over and hugged the cub until she strangled it to death, before running at a wall head-first to kill herself.

Her story hammers home the ongoing cruelty of bear bile farming - with thousands of animals still held captive across Asia.

Campaigners continue to call for the total abolition of bear bile farming - with an estimated 10,000 of the animals, mainly sun and brown bears still held in captivity, according to Animals Asia.

An unnamed witness of the shocking incident in 2011 told Singapore Seen: "When a worker wanted to open up her cub’s stomach, the mother bear broke open the cage and went after the cub.

"After failing to release the chained cub, she hugged the cub. Then, the mother bear killed the cub to save it from a life of hell."

Bile from various species of bears, including Asiatic black bears and brown bears, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since at least the eighth century, according to National Geographic.

The bile contains high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid which is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat liver disease and help dissolve gallstones.

It is unclear if bears are capable of "killing themselves" in the human sense - but animals held in poor conditions are known to engage in self destructive behaviour and self harm.

Bile is harvested by making a permanent hole in the bear's abdomen and gall bladder - which can often lead to painful infections and diseases.

As a result, many bears hurt or even kill themselves by punching their stomachs, and are sometimes fitted with iron vests to stop this.

Use of bear bile from captive animals is legal in China, but is bile from wild bears is banned, as is importation from other countries.

Bears held in captivity can manifest symptoms of extreme stress - such as constant pacing and self mutilation.

The mammals are usually farmed for their bile for around 20 years and are killed when they stop producing it.