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  • Kelly Connaghan

In This Together

Updated: Jan 20


Animal use happens in every country, not just China.


The finger of blame and disgust is firmly pointed at Asia, and in particular China, for bringing us the Coronavirus pandemic, and for their awful animal abuse record. People are sharing petitions to ban wet markets, a term that not many of us had even heard of until recently, and also to ban the bear bile trade. Bear bile has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine, and now it seems that it is proving effective in fighting Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. This will no doubt increase the demand for this horrific trade and bring unimaginable suffering to those beautiful bears.


The charity Animal Asia have been working for years to free and rehabilitate bears from bear bile farms. According to them, there are over 20,000 bears, mostly brown and sun bears, being held in captivity. Bile is extracted from them when they are still alive, in the most horrific ways, the bear is often in agony for most of its life, and then left to die. Even though it is legal in China, it is largely unregulated and inspections rarely happen. There are alternatives available as well, and Animal Asia are working to both stop the trade of bear bile, and to promote the alternatives.


87% of Chinese people are totally opposed to this trade and want to see it stopped. Bear bile products can be found in many countries worldwide, including Canada, US, Japan and Australia.


What is that saying, point a finger at someone and three are pointing back at you?




Beagles are routinely used in animal testing in the UK.


At the same time as this condemnation, is the call for a vaccine for Covid-19. Work has frantically begun on this in labs all over the world. How can the Chinese turn a blind eye to the suffering of the bears? This sort of thing doesn’t happen here! Are you sure about that? Let’s take a look.


All new medicines are required by law to be tested on animals in the EU, including vaccines. There are around 5 million animals being used to test medication every year, including mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and primates. The animals are given the disease that the medication is going to treat, and then they are subjected to painful medical procedures to see if it is effective or not, then they are killed at the end of it.


The coronavirus vaccine is being tested on animals in the PHE (public health England) Laboratory near Salisbury. This will involve painful procedures being done on live animals, then they will get sick, maybe die, and if they don’t die, they will be experimented on, then killed at the end of it. Vivisection is the word used to describe animal testing, the experimental dissection of live animals. Most experiments done on animals are not relevant to human health, and they are tortured in the process. They are burnt, starved, shocked, brain damaged, infected, addicted to drugs. Human and epidemiological trials are much more effective and relevant, but tradition, habit and lack of motivation dictate that animal trials continue. 54% of the UK population are against animal experiments, considering that it is supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, this figure is quite low.


FCS is used in research into vaccines. FCS, or Fetal Calf Serum (also known as Foetal Bovine Serum) is collected from the heart of a living calf just after it has been taken from it’s dead mother in the slaughterhouse. A needle is inserted into its heart and the serum extracted into a sterile collection bag. Only foetuses over 3 months are considered viable as younger ones don’t have big enough hearts. As blood clots immediately after death, the calf has to be alive. The serum is used in growing cultures in laboratory medical experiments and research. There are many more effective products available than FCS, yet again tradition, habit and lack of motivation means it just carries on. The skin of these calves is used in expensive leather, valued for it’s softness. It is estimated that around 150,000 pregnant cows are sent to the slaughterhouse every year in the UK. These cows are from the dairy industry that supplies milk, butter, chocolate and cheese. That number is significantly higher than the number of bears used every year in China for the bear bile trade. Yet we don’t see many Facebook petitions to stop this happening.


Every country is complicit in the use of animals, and every person who consumes dairy products, eats meat, wears fur/leather in this country, is contributing to the suffering of animals. Before you sign that petition to help British dairy farmers during this crisis, think very carefully about what you’re doing. Choosing vegan is the only way to make a difference in the lives of animals worldwide.


Further reading:

Pregnancy at slaughter https://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-pregnancy.html

Use of Fetal Calf Serum http://www.humaneresearch.org.au/campaigns/fetal_calf_serum

Animal testing is bad science https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-bad-science/

Anti Vivisection Society http://www.navs.org.uk/home/

Bear Bile Farming https://www.animalsasia.org/uk/our-work/end-bear-bile-farming/






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