Four Chinatown merchants arrested for selling bear bile |

Four Chinatown merchants arrested for selling bear bile

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – State wildlife officers arrested four Chinatown merchants Wednesday on suspicion of selling vials of bear bile for medicinal uses.

Department of Fish and Game wardens made the arrests after merchants at three San Francisco businesses sold the bile to undercover officers, charging $30 and up for a vial, said agency spokesman Steve Martarano.

It is a felony to sell any part of a bear in California, according to the agency.

Those arrested were May Tham, 64, and Tit Tham, 69, of the Tung Shing Trading Co.; Thomas Tsz Wun Chan, 59, of Wing Hop Company Inc.; and Wei Hao Zeng, 40, of Tung Fong Trading Company.

Fish and Game officials believe the fluid may have been imported from China, where bears are raised on farms to make bile for traditional Chinese medicine. The bitter, green bile extracted from bear gallbladders is used to treat eye, liver and other ailments.

Animal rights activists have called on China to phase out bear farms, complaining that the animals are often raised in inhumane conditions.

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