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).
As Christmas draws near and we at Animals Asia approach our 10th anniversary, it is a time to reflect on what we’ve achieved and where we’re headed.
The ‘Green Olympics’ – a cruel irony Next year, on 8 August, the “Green Olympics” will open with much fanfare in Beijing – 10 years to the day that we set up Animals Asia with the primary mission of ending bear farming in China. The irony is not lost on us. Much progress has been made in the past decade, but thousands of bears are still suffering unimaginable cruelty on bile farms.
With the eyes of the world now firmly on China, the lead-up to the Olympics is a critical time for Animals Asia. We are hoping the government will use this opportunity to commit to a timetable for ending bear farming.
We have to tread a fine line in China We’re sure you’re aware it’s not easy working in China: changing political winds, various levels of government, different factions, duplicity and greed within the industry all make our progress arduous and our results unpredictable. Through our long experience in China – and through listening to our Chinese staff – we are very aware of the need to tread carefully and yet maintain the pressure.
At this point, we do not know when more bears will be released into our care, but what we can promise you is that we will never give up our campaign to bring this terrible industry to an end. The Animal Planet documentary, “Moon Bears Journey to Freedom” shows just how committed we are. The film is being shown around the world and we are also distributing it throughout China, as part of our ongoing education efforts.
Ready to catch the wave of change China is changing at an astounding pace. Local animal welfare groups are springing up around the country, people are standing up and saying “no” to cruelty, protesting against brutal dog culls and rescuing cats from live animal markets. There is escalating support from the public, the media and the government in giving animals a voice at long last. In this climate, anything is possible; a decree could outlaw bear farming overnight. Should this happen, we are ready with workable solutions and the officials know they can rely on us to help implement a ban.
Clearly we don’t have the resources to bring 7,000-plus farmed bears to our Chengdu sanctuary, but we do have solutions to help vast numbers of bears. The first step would be to ban breeding on farms. Because of high mortality rates, we know this would rapidly slash numbers. Our veterinary team and bear managers are ready to help with the massive job of closing the farms and releasing the bears from their cages.
Solutions to help bears in huge numbers With our help, the government could either utilise the current bear farms and land, creating in-situ sanctuaries; or it could move the bears into other areas to live out their lives in semi-natural enclosures. Until then, our offer of fair compensation to farmers willing to close their farms, give up their licences and place their bears into our care remains. The China sanctuary, which to date has saved 219 bears (170 still living) will remain the focus of our education efforts and we are committed to looking after these bears for the rest of their lives. This in itself is a huge undertaking and, as always, we are relying on your ongoing support. Meanwhile, our work to end the brutal bile industry continues.
What we’re doing to end bear farming - Jill is constantly giving roadshows and presentations, most recently in the UK, US, New Zealand, Luxembourg and, of course, China; Australia and Germany are coming up next year.
- Circulating an in-depth report on the industry to experts in veterinary medicine, animal husbandry, bear biology, wildlife biology, ethics, animal welfare and political science around the world and soliciting their support;
- Collecting thousands of signatures around the world on huge banners calling for an end to bear farming; - Holding ongoing meetings with senior government officials and co-operating with the State Forestry University, which is producing the environmental leaders of the future;
- Overseeing laboratory analyses of bear bile to gather evidence of harmful effects on consumers;
- Organising educational roadshows and presentations at schools and universities in China;
- Producing an information booklet for Chinese business and political leaders showing how the industry harms China’s reputation and consequently its trade/economy;
- Working with TCM practitioners in China and Western countries (eg, Australia, the UK, US);
- Educating thousands of visitors at our sanctuary each year to appreciate these beautiful, forgiving bears for their own sakes, rather than how they can benefit humankind.
What our supporters are doing - University students throughout China have formed 20 “Friends of Animals Asia” support groups raising awareness of our work at the grass-roots level;
- The Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA) has launched a campaign to collect one million signatures in support of our campaign to end bear farming;
- Eminent Chinese legal academic Professor Song Wei is drafting China’s first animal welfare protection laws and lobbying for their implementation;
- National People’s Congress representative, Ms Zhou Ping from Chengdu, put forward a proposal to end bear bile farming at the last meeting of the congress in Beijing;
- Celebrities are putting their fame and influence behind our campaign – Stephen Fry gladly narrated the Animal Planet documentary, Olivia Newton-John made a TV advert with us that is playing across Asia and Australia. Other supporters include Dr Dame Jane Goodall CBE, Born Free’s Virginia McKenna OBE, reknowned wildlife artist David Shepherd OBE, Asian superstar Karen Mok, Aussie celebrity vet Katrina Warren and British entertainers, Paul Martin and Dave Spikey.
Tiger trade may impact on bears In 1992, China banned the trade in tiger parts and removed them from the Chinese pharmacopoeia. Today 5,000 tigers have been bred on “farms” by entrepreneurs who are pushing for the ban to be lifted. We have joined the International Tiger Coalition to help keep the ban in place. There’s a grim lesson here – even once bear farming has ended, we will need to keep the pressure on to ensure this terrible industry never returns. This is why we focus on educating people to stop using bear bile.
We are the only animal welfare organisation actively rescuing bears in China – we are keeping the issue in the news. It is your generosity and support that has brought us this far and for that we are truly grateful. We have witnessed unimaginable torture, cried rivers for bears that have suffered and died so horrifically on the farms. And we never forget that without caring people like you we would never have seen such amazing progress, with lovely bears like Jasper, Agathon, blind Bluebelle and brain-damaged Rupert loving every second of their pain-free lives today.
In for the long haul We are committed to running their sanctuary for at least the next 30 years and we desperately need your ongoing support to give our beautiful, forgiving ambassador Moon Bears the care they so rightly deserve. So please, stay with us – together, we can end the suffering for thousands more bears still imprisoned by this brutal industry.
PS: It’s been a long wait, but finally we’re ready to start our major rescue of 200 Moon Bears in Vietnam. Before the year is out, we hope 50 weak and frightened bears will be released from their hellish cages on the farms and brought to our new sanctuary near Hanoi to join 5 bears already rescued .
Agathon arrived in this pitiful state in October 2006.
Agathon today, loves to play for hours with his best friend Metty.
Only when consumers stop buying bile products will moon bears be truly safe.
This farmer willingly gave these gorgeous cubs, Chi and Ki, into our care.
Drumming up support on the streets of Chengdu – people really do care.
Renowned TCM doctor, Professor Liu, speaks out strongly against the use of bear bile.
Our vet reports are widely circulated to experts and leaders across the world.
Supporters like Olivia Newton-John are helping us spread the word.
Education begins early with these tiny Chengdu school children!
Animal welfare legal expert Professor Song Wei visits our newly rescued bears.
We fear the trade in tiger parts, like this dried penis, could be made legal again.
Help us look after rescued bears like Jasper and Pooh for the rest of their lives.