A disturbing discovery made at a Chinese food restaurant at the University of British Columbia has alarmed conservation officers and the public.
A suspected fire at 5 Tastes Chinese Bistro in the UBC Village Wednesday night led firefighters to discover what is believed to be a black bear paw inside one of the restaurant’s refrigerators. CBC reported the story Thursday evening, saying the discovery has led the B.C. RCMP and Conservation Officers to investigate the the bear parts and determine whether they were illegally obtained.
Bear paws in Chinese food culture are rare but not without precedent. The Manchu Han Imperial Feast, one of the largest feasts ever recorded in Chinese history during the Qing Dynasty, included bear paws as one of its 32 delicacies. Also listed as part of the meal were shark fins, monkey brains, leopard fetuses and dried sea cucumbers.
The bear paw dish was called Snowy Palm and included bear claw with sturgeon. Bear paw is also listed as one of China’s “Eight Rarities” and is reportedly served by the wealthy at impressive banquets. However, bears are now classified as endangered in China and are typically absent from menus.
In 2011, one Vancouver resident was arrested at Vancouver Airport for attempting to smuggle bear paws into China. According to the B.C. Wildlife Act, possession of wildlife such as bear paws is subject to a fine of not more than $250,000 and not less than $2,500 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years, or both.