Some go crazy, trapped for years in tiny “crush” cages, capable only of rocking side to side when freed. Asia’s bile bears sometimes reach through the bars to their rescuers, but a few have clear hatred for humans in their eyes.
Oliver spent 30 years on all fours in a slightly bigger cage, unable to stand and forced to wear a full-metal jacket tightened around his body with canvas straps. There was a belly door in the jacket for a catheter running from the bear’s abdomen to a bag for milking.
The bile is sold as traditional Chinese medicine to help humans with fever, gallstones or liver complaints.