BEARS kept in tiny cages by Chinese 'doctors' who harvest their bile have committed suicide by hunger strike.
More than 10,000 bears are kept in miserable conditions in both China and Vietnam where their bile is prized in traditional Chinese 'medicine'.
Animal rights campaigners have attempted to highlight their plight for years.
The bears – usually the threatened Asiatic black bear - are often penned in 'crush cages', measuring about 2ft 6ins by 4ft 2ins, forcing them to lie permanently on their backs.
This makes it easier for the 'farmer' to draw the bile through a tube inserted into the bear's stomach.
But campaigners say the animals are deliberately starving themselves to death rather than face years of misery and cruelty.
Campaigner Louis Ng, director of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society in Singapore, said he has seen examples of suicide by self-starvation for years.
Chris Gee, captive bear campaigns manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, confirmed reports that bears were starving themselves to death.
He said: “Bears in these farms do go out of their minds with frustration at their captivity.
“They are kept in horrendous conditions with bile being extracted from their gall bladder on a daily basis. For some of them, as horrible as it is to say, death would be the best option for them. “On visits to these farms during our campaigns to raise awareness and try and put a stop to them we have seen bears repeatedly banging their heads against their cage bars in frustration.”
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