A VET in Hook will head to China this month to check on the welfare of bears that had been farmed for their bile.

Tracey Manning, from Hook Veterinary Centre, in Bell Meadow Road, will travel to the city of Chengdu, where a farmer handed over 130 bears to the charity Animals Asia.

Thousands of moon bears are kept in captivity in China by farmers who extract their bile for use in traditional medicines.

While the practice is legal in the country, campaigners have called for it to end, arguing that the extraction of bile is painful for the bears and they are often kept in tiny cages.

It will be Miss Manning’s first trip to witness the work of a charity she supports, and she will head to China on July 18 with Sharon Wyatt, a veterinary nursing assistant at the veterinary centre.

She said: “I feel a combination of being elated at being privileged enough to go and help, and quite nervous that I’m going to be emotionally torn about.

“All the video footage and literature is enough to bring one to tears about what is happening to these beautiful creatures.”

Miss Manning said that as well as rescuing farmed bears, Animals Asia also tries to educate people in China about the practice. The man who handed over his bear farm to the charity did so after pressure from his relatives, she added, and Chinese attitudes to bear farms are changing.

Miss Manning will join other volunteers on her 12-day trip in checking the health of the recently-freed bears.