Emily Garthwaite's Image

When Emily approached, the young sun bear hurried to the front of its filthy zoo cage, seemingly eager to interact with her. Yet when it spotted its keeper, its demeanour changed. As the keeper poked and provoked the bear ‘he started screaming,’ said Emily. ‘I’ve never heard such an awful noise, it was very frightening.’

Sun bears are the world’s rarest bears, yet are commonly exploited for their gall bladders and bile. In traditional Chinese medicine the bile is thought to treat a range of ailments, from hangovers to hepatitis. Cubs are farmed, sometimes living permanently with a catheter used to drain the bile.

Behind the lens

Emily Garthwaite

Emily Garthwaite


Emily Garthwaite is a London-based photojournalist and street photographer with a focus on humanitarian and environmental stories. She recently co-directed her first documentary in Iraq on Arba'een, the world's largest annual pilgrimage. Emily graduated with a master's in photojournalism and documentary photography from the University of Westminster in 2016.

Image details

  • Leica M240
  • Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f2 lens
  • 1/125 sec at f5.6  •   ISO 1000
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