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China closes hundreds of bear farms: government

BEIJING -- China has closed more than 400 bear breeding farms as it steps up efforts to protect animal rights, the government said Tuesday. The number of bear breeding farms, which typically raise the animals to collect their bile for medicine, has decreased to 68 from more than 480 in the 1990s, said Zhu Lieke, vice minister of the State Forestry Administration.

New surgical technologies have been adopted to reduce the pain felt by the bears during the process of extracting the bile, replacing such traditional practices as confining the bear in a small iron cage or iron jacket, he said.

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