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Almost half of the bears rescued recently from horrendous conditions on Chinese bile farms have died. They were brought to the Animals Asia rescue centre in Chengdu in the Sichuan Province founded 10 years ago by Briton Jill Robinson but many were past help. "They all needed abdominal surgery and were grossly underweight at about 50 kilos when they should weigh 150 kilos. Some of these animals had been kept on the farms for 20 years and had no teeth or claws," said Robinson on a fund-raising tour of the UK. "Ten of the bears died within 11 days and post-mortems showed most of them were suffering from liver cancer probably caused by the catheters inserted into their stomachs to drain the bile. One bear was covered in puncture marks as though the farmer knew he was dying and wanted to extract every last drop of bile before he died." Jill Robinson also warns consumers that the bile extracted from some of the terminally ill bears may pose a threat to human health. "When it emerges it is like black sludge and is tainted by the puss associated with the liver cancer that many bears develop. Doctors who have seen it say they would never take it themselves."

The Telegraph (18th June 2008)