COMEDIAN Bill Bailey found nothing to laugh at when he witnessed the suffering of bears in India (Letters, July 17). He made a short film about it which can be seen on the Argus website ("Bill's plea for bear necessities", July 19, It is not just in India that bears are suffering though.

In 1999 and 2000 the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) conducted one of the most comprehensive inspections of Chinese bear farms undertaken.

The investigation revealed how at farms across China bears are surgically mutilated and "milked"

each day for their gall bile.

Most bears kept in these farms are imprisoned in cages measuring 1m wide, 1m high and 2m long.

This is too small for a bear to stand up or turn around. Sadly their resilience means many survive in these terrible conditions for over 20 years.

WSPA's research shows bear farming jeopardises the survival of bears in the wild. In South East Asia black bears are captured and sold to bear farms while the vigorous marketing of bear bile products has put a price on the head of every living bear.

While China carries on treating bears in this way we should join with Sir Paul McCartney in refusing to visit China and boycott next year's Olympic Games in Beijing.

In 1994 the Chinese Association of Medicine established that there are a large number of herbal and synthetic alternatives to bear bile and published its findings in a report. I concur with the words of Dr Ho Ka Cheong, president of the Hong Kong Chinese Herbalist Association Ltd: "Herbal alternatives have the same effect, so why kill the animals?"

David Hammond
North Court, Hassocks