years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Tail-wagging teachers participate in Hong Kong government's English Festival!
These children were soon won over by Professor Bear's gentle nature. Initially they were terrified of this lovely gentle giant.
Professor Paws was one of just four projects chosen from among almost 30 applicants to participate in the HK government’s English Festival 2007.
Our much-loved Professor Paws dogs have long been a favourite among schoolchildren in Hong Kong. Now they have also won over officials in the Hong Kong government!
Professor Paws was one of just four projects chosen from among almost 30 applicants to participate in the government’s English Festival 2007 staged by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR). More than 400 primary students from 10 schools around Hong Kong benefited from the six-week programme that ran throughout spring.
Our Education Director Anneleise Smillie, who founded Professor Paws, says since launching in 2004 nearly 3,500 children across Hong Kong have graduated as Pet Cadets – thanks to the sheer hard work of more than 100 volunteers and their canine companions.
Many of these children had never even touched a dog before, let alone managed to walk, brush and feed a dog. Through the programme, they learn to overcome their fears, learn safety around dogs and learn compassion for animals. An added bonus is that they get to hone their English-speaking skills with a native speaker in a fun environment.
From literally begging schools to sign up, as we did in the beginning, we now have schools calling us. In fact, during the recent government English festival over 60 schools applied for just 10 places! Our participation in the English festival also marked a milestone in our growth as this was the first time that animals have been included on the agenda.
Anneleise says the benefits that interaction with dogs brings to children are evident almost immediately. “Many of the children are terrified, not because they have had a bad experience with dogs in the past, but because they have simply had no experience of dogs, so it’s a fear of the unknown. Or often the children’s parents have instilled this fear in them, telling them not to touch dogs because they are dirty and dangerous.”
Usually by the third lesson, the fear is gone. “By then, all the children want to pat and hug the dogs. The change we’re seeing in a short space of time is remarkable,” says Anneleise. “With gentle encouragement the children are soon clamouring to feed their “Professor” and begging their teachers to have dogs in every lesson!” She says some children even cry when they have to say goodbye to their furry Professor.
We are certainly getting lots of positive feedback from teachers. Here are just a couple of comments:
“This is certainly a great programme for it not only allows students to learn how to care about the animals, but also students are exposed to an English environment where they can practise their listening and speaking skills.”
“It is an excellent programme. Students take the initiative to use English as well as learn a positive attitude towards animals. Our school would definitely love to organise this kind of programme again.”
Little Johnson – one of 3,500 children to have graduated as a Professor Paws Pet Cadet – proudly shows off his certificate.
Professors Donna, Bear and Lucky are among the lovely dogs working hard to educate children to love and respect animals.
Learning the correct way to feed snacks to dogs is one way that children build up their confidence.
Volunteers say their dogs are always thrilled when their Professor Paws bandana is put around their necks!