Guest Blogger, Lynn Waddell (

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Why bears? It’s a question I ask myself a lot. Not why do I advocate for them necessarily but why do human beings persecute them to the extent they do.

An animal revered in Native culture, the national animal of many countries, one we recognise on state seals, flags, city emblems, we write stories and songs about them and they are the toy animal we give to our children as cherished childhood companions. We seem to be very fond of bears and yet they are one of the most persecuted species in the world. And often in the most hideous ways.

Bear bile farming in Asia has to be one of the most barbaric and horrifically cruel abuses people inflict on bears. The bears, either caught in the wild or imported from equally dreadful breeding centres are mutilated daily to ‘milk’ their bile which is then used as an ingredient in Chinese traditional medicines. A process that causes acute pain and the onset of diseases, cancer, infection and injuries from self-mutilation. The awful truth is there are herbal and synthetic alternatives available.

Bears languish in unacceptable, inappropriate conditions around the world in zoos, private animal collections, unregulated roadside menageries. Noble apex predators in the wild become circus clowns performing cheap tricks for an audience either uninterested or unaware of the abuse and deprivation of a life in a circus. From bear-dancing, canned hunting and bear baiting, to barren zoo enclosures and pits overfilled with bears succumbing to zoochosis, the numerous ways we have devised to exploit and utilise bears for our own benefit has eroded their right to respect, to live free from cruelty, exploitation and confinement.

Bears are sentient, intelligent animals requiring large spaces and complex environments, they are not good candidates for captivity and yet there are thousands round the world enduring life in cage. The challenges in helping caged bears are difficult. But rescue and rehabilitation is possible. Many rescued animals spend their lives in specialised sanctuaries, places of respite and hope where they can become real bears again.

Why do we advocate for caged bears?  Because we cannot go on disregarding their suffering. Bears can’t tell us about their distress, they can’t complain about the intolerable conditions we force them to live in and they can’t ask for help. It is easy to turn a blind eye to the lifelong suffering of these tragic prisoners that we have reduced to objects we display, use, own and control. Seeing this cruelty is hard but looking away is a tragic mistake, because apathy and indifference casts them into the shadows. We choose not to turn away.

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Please join us and help free caged bears.

People Advocating for Caged Bears is a group of volunteers from Canada, Italy, Scotland, England, Albania and Germany, passionate about bears, concerned about their welfare, determined to raise awareness and take action for those languishing in bad conditions. We also support conservation organisations who work to preserve wild spaces for bears and other animals.

All nature is interconnected and when we try to ‘manage’ the natural world we are jeopardising natural processes and upsetting the natural balance, risking the disintegration of a healthy environment for ourselves.

This short film Why Bears? explains why we need wild bears:

– Lynn Waddell

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Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur
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