(ATR) One of the two species featured as PyeongChang 2018's mascots is living in captivity across the country of South Korea.
The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic mascots Soohorang and Bandabi (Getty Images)
The mascots for next winter's Olympic and Paralympic Games include the white tiger named “Soohorang” and the Asiatic black bear called “Bandabi". The two have been used as symbols of will power, courage and protection and are featured in various Korean folk tales.
The folk tales however do not include the near extinction the black bear is facing today in Korea. The animal is recognized by the half moon on its chest and is known in the region as the "Moon Bear." The bears are being held in over 30 farms around the country and exploited for their bile. In East Asia, the bile is believed to solve numerous health problems from "hangovers to heart disease" according to NPR's Elise Hu
. Bear farmers breed these animals in cages for the legal minimum of 10 years before they are eventually slaughtered for the bile in their gall bladder.
The capturing and farming of the "Moon Bear" has put the animal on the endangered species list.
The demand for moon bear bile has subsided causing many bear farmers to close shop "but nearly 800 moon bears still live in caged limbo in their native country," Hu states
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Homepage photo: Getty Images
Written by Courtney Colquitt
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