A Chinese man adopted two “puppies” two years ago only to more recently learn they are actually Asian Black Bears. Wang Kayui, a banana farmer from the Yunnan Province, bought the two ‘puppies’ in Vietnam in 2013. The bears were very well-behaved, according to their owner and stayed at his home until he made the strange discovery. Kayui said he enjoyed bathing and grooming every day.
The bears which weighed 100 pounds each began killing and consuming Kayui’s chickens as they grew older and their appetite increased. Soon, the pets began to appear less like the dogs he anticipated the adopted “puppies” to become. After spotting pamphlets issued by a local public security bureau, the man immediately realized he had housed the Category 2 protected animals illegally.
The Asian Black Bear is also known as Himalayan Black Bear, Tibetan Black Bear, and Moon Bear. This animal is considered an endangered species by animal conservationists. It is typically found living in Asian tropical forests and is a medium to large size mammal. Populations for the Asian Black Bear have drastically declined due to both loss of their natural habitats to deforestation and the fact they are the most prized of all bear species that are hunted for their body parts that are used in traditional medicines and also as a culinary delicacy in some areas.
According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), in Asia the gallbladder of one of these bears can cost over $3,000. They are used widely for medicinal purposes and reportedly have been very effective in treating a number of illnesses. The HSUS website states:
Bear gallbladder and bile are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, convulsions, liver disease and fever. Clinical research analyzing the medicinal properties of bear gallbladder indicate that they may be effective for treating a number of ills. However, other natural substances already accepted in traditional medicine, as well as synthetic substances, can be substituted.
The bile of these bears has been popular for 3,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine due to ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), which is the active ingredient in the bile. UDCA is more abundant in bears than any other animal. Once it is excreted by the liver, it is stored in the gallbladder until released into the stomach. Farmers of bears have produced tea, wine, throat lozenges and shampoo containing bear bile. Although UDCA has proven bear bile to be effective, some medical practitioners claim its effectiveness has been overrated.
Asian Black Bears are usually active in the daytime, but they can become nocturnal when they live near people because they are not very comfortable with humans. The bears make several different noises to communicate with each other and are known to whine, grunt, slurp when eating, roar, hiss, and scream. It is not known why it took the Chinese man two years to realize his adopted “puppies” were actually Asian Black Bears. Kayui said:
When I was working on my banana farm, a Vietnamese man came up and showed me two good-looking pups. He said they are good watchdogs, so I bought them. I love them so much. Some people had offered to buy them for a lot of money, but I never agreed.
Once the man realized he had been caring for state-protected bears he called law enforcement for assistance. Kayui wanted the bears to be sent to an appropriate habitat. The two bears, one male, and the other female, were sent to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of Yunnan after being contacted by forestry police. Feng Lingui, an officer with the center, said the bears are nearly three years old and in good health. The Chinese man was not pleased to learn he had adopted two “puppies” which were actually Asian Black Bears, but is pleased they are now where they need to be for optimum health.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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