After dawn, the worker on-duty, Zhang took me to see the bears. In a few thousand square meters wide and tall building, six cages were placed in an open space. In every cage, there laid a black and weary bear. What puzzled me was the shining metal around their bodies.
Zhang told me, “This iron vest is used to extract bile from the bear body. Now, the price of this bile is 300 yuan per gram.” He took me to the first cage, gesturing to me, “Let’s start the bile extraction.”
I saw two sturdy workers tied up the bear’s body and pulled, through a pulley, a rope that was connected to the iron vest. They shouted, “Hi….!” and I saw the bear’s body contracted as they pulled. Suddenly, the bear gave out a hysterical roar, “Woo….!”. That was not really a roar. It has changed to a desolate and sorrowful cry. Her eyes showed endurance of excruciating pain. With restricted movement and space, she tried to struggle with her four limbs, kicking the ground with, “Ze la, Ze la” sound, which was such a pain to hear. At that very instant, I could hear the dripping sound of liquid coming out from a steel pipe under the bear’s stomach.
The workers then slowly released the rope followed by another long hard pull, as they repeated the extraction procedure. Another hoarse cry was heard. I saw the tears drop from the bear’s eyes. Similar to how a human would response to pain; the bear clenched its teeth and bent its body. It was such a heart-breaking scene! I could not bear to watch any further. I turned and walked away.
At that moment, I suddenly realised, the moaning cry before dawn came from these tragic bears.
Zhang followed me to the door. With trembling voice, I asked him, “Have you lost your humanity? These are living things!”
Zhang dismissed it, “Not that we have any choice. This is how we earn a living.”
Calming down, I asked him with a heavy heart, “How often do you need to extract the bile?”
He replied, “That depends. If the bear has good supply of bile, we will do it once or twice a day. The bear with less bile will be performed once in two days. Generally, a bear can produce 2000g of bile annually for 10 years.”
I trembled. Twice a day for 10 years, these are monstrous numbers! The bear has to go through such deadly torture twice a day, living a life without hope, for 10 years; 7200 times of flesh piercing pain; enduring it day after day, year after year. Even if this happens to the strongest human, he will not be able to sustain it. My heart ached with pain.
I wanted to leave. Zhang said, “In a short while, a surgery will be performed on the cubs. You cannot leave at this critical moment. You are representing Mr. Liu. If you leave and something goes wrong, who is going to bear the responsibility?”
Reluctantly, I followed him back to the bear room. Under his instruction, four sturdy workers brought in a cub and tied it up with chain. The cub looked at everyone with horror. When she saw me, her eyes brightened up. The cub dropped to her knees and begged me. I felt tears in my eyes.
Zhang waved his hands, instructing the workers to start the surgery.
In great despair, the cub lifted her head and cried, “Wooo….” She burst into tears. It was the most sorrowful and soul-touching cry I have ever heard in my life. It was as if knowing the human language, the cub shouted out the word, “Mom….”. Even the workers were startled.
At that very moment, an extra-ordinary shocking scene took place. A bear in a cage let out a loud cry. With her large hands and all her strength, she pushed open the thick iron bar and jumped out of the cage. The workers were terrified and fled away immediately.
Startled, I didn’t move. It was as if my legs had grown lead and I was not able to move an inch. However, the bear ignored my presence. She rushed to the cub. With her large hands, in awkward movement, she frantically tried to release the cub from the chain. Despite her best effort, she failed to release the cub. So, she kissed the cub and nestled her in her arms with a heavy heart. She licked the cub’s tears lovingly, crying, “Hmm ..hmmm….” to soothe the cub. The cub cried out, “Hoooo….”, as if calling her mom, asking her for rescue.
Suddenly, the bear let out a loud cry. With her large hands, she strangled the cub’s neck with all her might. She roared as she strangled until the cub’s body fell to the ground. Then, she released her hands. Looking at her dead child, she whimpered, as if saying, ”My child, I cannot save you, but you are not going to suffer any more. I’m so sorry.”
She bit her own hair. Then, she grabbed the iron vest and pulled it off her body. Together with the vest, the metal pipe flew out of the gallbladder. The fur at her stomach was covered with red blood as it dripped out of her stomach. She let out another cry, as if she has gone hysterical, and went towards the wall. “Bang!”. The wall collapsed.
I was in shock. I could not recall how I left this brutal place.