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).
Journey to freedom: the 2,400km trip to sanctuary.
Thursday morning broke sunny and warm – felt by all to be a good omen for the last leg of the trip.
Oliver had had a good night and brightened everybody's day by eating some watermelon and pineapple and drinking water for the first time since his rescue! He was definitely feeling a lot better, though still groggy from his dramatic surgery on Wednesday.
Stops throughout the day saw him accept more small portions of food and water, and a good shower in the afternoon at a service stop cooled him down for the remaining road home.
Oliver is not out of the woods yet but for now, he is stable and if the wishes and support of the rescue team, willing him onward, count for anything, he is on his way to a new life.
After a good day's progress the rescue team was relieved to cross the border into Sichuan Province in the early evening. It would still take several hours more to reach the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, but having lost more than 12 hours travel time on Wednesday, everybody was buoyed by the thought of reaching home.
Finally, at 2.10am on Thursday night/Friday morning, after three days on the road, the first truck carrying Astrid and Oliver pulled into the rescue centre, closely followed by the other two. It was time to unload these precious bears, move them into the quarantine area and settle them down for the night with fresh bedding, food and water.
Bear managers Nic, Charlie and Annemarie, vet nurse Caroline and their teams had been waiting patiently for several hours in Chengdu and were now happy to take over. And with the help of the seemingly inexhaustible road crew – Howard, Ai, Zhong Yu Yun, Erdi Ribo, Ou Jun, and Mao Sijiang, still working like supermen – the unloading was completed smoothly and swiftly.
With the bears finally settled into quarantine and Oliver and Kylie taken to the hospital (Kylie will be prioritized for surgery because of a large abdominal hernia), it was finally time to wind down the operation. At 4.00am, with a final walk-around and a temporary farewell to these 10 bears they had shared the last four days with, the weary rescue team called it a night.
Friday will bring further assessment, as each bear is carefully tended to, and more health checks and surgery to repair their ravaged bodies will be scheduled over the coming weeks.
For now, Rustin, Kylie, Baxter, Erdi, Nica, Ping Guo (Apple), Monkey, Rocky, Astrid and Oliver are safe and secure in their new home, never again to feel fear or have pain inflicted on them.