Yao Ming and his wife Ye Li visited the Animals Asia Foundation China Bear Rescue Center near Chengdu, currently home to approximately 160 rescued moon bears. The bears, also known as Asiatic black bears, were rescued from bear bile farms generally notorious for cramped conditions and cruel treatment. Yao shook paws with one particularly lucky basketball-loving bear, who even received a manicure from the former 9-time All-Star center.
Yao, who previously put his celebrity weight (and height) behind campaigns to stop the consumption of shark fin, spoke of the need to protect moon bears from harm:
The moon bear is one of nature’s beautiful animals. Let’s care for the moon bear together!
Snuffling around and generally looking pretty dopey, moon bears are exploited for the bile produced in their livers on bear bile farms throughout China.
Recently, the issue received an unprecedented amount of coverage, after Fujian’s Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Company desire to publicly list their company drew outrage from netizens.
Chinese Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine spokesman Fang Shuting defended the practice on behalf of Guizhentang, claiming moon bears love nothing more than having a little excess fluid siphoned out of their guts:
The process of extracting bear bile is like turning on a tap: natural, easy and without pain. After they’re done, the bears can even play happily outside. I don’t think there’s anything out of the ordinary! It might even be a very comfortable process!