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Bear Rescue

by Tracy Barry

Bio | Email | Follow: @tracybarrynews

Posted on February 25, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:33 PM

I know a lot of you are animal lovers out there. Me too of course. Which is why I wanted to do the story that is airing tonight in our 6pm newscast. It's about efforts to rescue bears out of actual bear farms in China and some other Asian Countries.

Honestly, until recently I knew nothing about these bear farms so I'm guessing that many of you don't either. A few weeks ago I finished reading a novel by Lisa See called Flower Net that deals with the bear farms. Since it was a novel I couldn't help but wonder if the bear farm descriptions were real. I'm sad to say they are.

You can imagine my surprise when that same week I got an email from the Oregon Zoo asking me if I wanted to do a story on some volunteers trying to help a group that rescues the bears. Clearly it was meant to be. The volunteers are knitting mittens to keep the bears warm when they are operated on at the rescue center. You have to see how big these mittens are!

This is a tough subject. The bears are "milked" for their bile which is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I want you to know the shocking truth about what's going on, but I don't want to be so graphic that you can't stand to watch the story. I hope I've hit a balance. One thing I don't get into is that studies have shown repeatedly that the bear bile is an effective treatment for many medical issues. Since it's been used for 3-thousand years getting people to accept the just as effective synthetic replacements is very difficult.

I want to offer a couple of links so you can learn much more if you are so inclined.

You can read about the organization trying to end bear farming at

The yarn shop that is helping zoo volunteers make mittens for the rescued bears is

The yarn shop Twisted is really cool by the way. One of the owners Emily Kizer came up with the pattern for the bear mittens. Emily did admit when the call first came in from the zoo she thought it might be a prank! But it checked out. The zoo sent her over a picture of what the bear paw looked like and some dimensions and she went to work.

Check it out and as always thanks for watching.

Tracy Barry