To thwart Guizhentang Pharmaceuticals, which reportedly keeps nearly 500 bears on its farms, from trading its stock publicly, animal activists have hit on the idea of contacting existing investors with plans to buy their shares in hopes of preventing the drugmaker from being able to follow through on its planned stock sale.
"Our social morality has come to a crossroads. Whether the company goes public or not is a matter of life and death for the suffering bears," Bai Yipeng, founder of China SOS Help, a non-government organization, tells China Daily. "If we succeed in buying enough shares as a large shareholder with a right to veto business decisions, we will strategically make the drug company diversified in its production and abolish bile extraction from bears."
Guizhentang attempt to go public last year, but the move triggered furious protests from animal rights groups who accused the drugmaker of cruelty. Since then, Guizhentang has insisted that its practices were legal, but no longer uses traditional methods, which involves first killing the bears. A spokesperson declined to comment to the newspaper about the efforts to buy investor shares.
The drugmaker would use the proceeds to expand the size of its farm and the number of its captive bears to about 1,200, the paper writes, noting that bear bile has been used in traditional medicine in China and other Asian countries for detoxification, cleansing the liver and improving vision. In the 1980s, captive breeding replaced the original method of killing wild black bears to get the bile.
As of five years ago, China had 68 registered bear farms where about 7,000 black bears were kept for bile extraction, according to the State Forestry Administration. The number of bear farms, meanwhile, increased to 98 in 2011. For its part, China SOS Help says it has rescued 277 black bears over the past decade as part of its effort to end bear farming in China.
Black bears are reportedly listed among species with the highest risk of extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (see here). Meanwhile, some experts say that using bear bile may be dangerous. "The bile extracted from the sick black bears is very likely to carry a cancer cell, which could trigger health risks when ingested by humans," Wang Shengxian, head of the pathology department at Chengdu Military General Hospital, tells the paper.
pic thx to AnimalsAsia