A man got the shock of his life when the puppies he raised since their birth turned out not to be puppies after all.
Wang Kaiyu of Maguan County, China, bought the dogs in 2013 from Vietnam. He was told they were friendly with people and not picky about food.
As they got older, Kaiyu began realizing their behavior was changing and that they weren’t behaving like dogs at all. He overlooked their strange progression and continued to raise them for two years.
One day he saw a wildlife protection advertisement for Asian black bears and realized that he’d been raising them, and not dogs, the entire time, IB Times reporter.
Kaiyu contacted authorities and had the bears moved to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of Yunnan. They were kept there and taken care of.
Asian black bears are listed as vulnerable by the ICUN Red List, with the species constantly being threatened by hunters and loss of habitat. Their body parts, most commonly their gall bladders, are often sold throughout China and other parts of Southeast Asia.
According to the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species:
The major threat to bears in China and Southeast Asia is the commercial trade in live bears and bear parts, especially gall bladders (bile). China initiated commercial bear farming in 1984, ostensibly to satisfy the demand for bile by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM; and also Traditional Korean Medicine, TKM). The bile is periodically drained, so the captive bears do not have to be killed; it was claimed that this practice would thereby reduce the taking of wild bears. However, these farms were initially stocked with wild bears, and although the Chinese farms are purportedly now mainly self-propagating (with some continuing exceptions), there is no evidence that their existence has reduced the killing (poaching) of wild bears.
In Viet Nam, many small-scale bile farms have been started, which were stocked by several thousand bears removed from the wild (from Viet Nam as well as from neighbouring countries). The condition in which these bears are kept precludes successful breeding and cub rearing; in fact, most of these farms do not attempt to breed their bears. Moreover, although this practice has been illegal since 1992, with regulations strengthened in 2002, the number of wild-caught farmed bears in Viet Nam is estimated to have increased by an order of magnitude in less than a decade.
The capture of live bears presents yet another threat to this species. In several Southeast Asian countries Asiatic black bears are routinely confiscated from people attempting to raise them as pets. In Pakistan, several thousand bears were taken from the wild for exhibitions (referred to as bear baiting) in which individual bears (with canines and claws removed) fight with dogs. This practice was made illegal in 2001, but continues to some extent.