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).
One autumn night, the Animals Asia team were watching TV in the canteen at the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu and saw a programme about a little cub that was owned by a farmer in a remote part of Sichuan Province. We immediately contacted the producers of the show on CCTV9 to find out more, and learned that the cub had been found and adopted by the farmer and his wife who planned to keep him as tourist attraction.
We then contacted our government partners, the Sichuan Forestry Department, to find out how we could help. While the farmer and his wife clearly loved the cub, our concern was that as the cub matured, he would pose a serious threat to the safety of the people in the village and may even have ended up on a bear farm.
Given the go-ahead to rescue the cub, Toby our General Manager, Boris our Special Projects Director and the vet team, together with the CCTV9 camera crew set off on the 10-hour journey to rescue the cub. However on arrival, the farmer and his wife had changed their minds. They had become so attached to the little cub, who they called "Hei Mao" (Black Cat), that they refused to part with him.
Our vet team gently explained that although he was friendly and affectionate to the villagers now, that as a wild animal his natural instincts would be unpredictable and that even in play he could potentially inflict serious injury, especially as he grew larger. We then invited the farmer and his wife to visit our rescue centre and to see how large moon bears grow to be and the intensive management they require to remain happy and healthy.
A month later the farmer paid us a visit and on seeing our bears, was surprised and shocked that little "Hei Mao" would one day grow to be so big and playful, with such sizable teeth and claws!
On returning to his village, the farmer contacted the Forestry Department and agreed to give up "Hei Mao" on the condition that he went to live in "Bear Paradise" at the Animals Asia Rescue Centre. Once again our team set off with CCTV9 on the long journey to collect the cub and bring him home in time for Christmas!
Safe at last, little "Hei Mao" has now been christened "Naji" by his sponsor, which couldn't be more appropriate as it means "safe" in Arabic.
Shamelessly spoiled with a never-ending stream of tasty treats and exciting toys from our adoring vet nurses, Naji is currently quarantined in his recovery cage for a short period, before being integrated with our other cubs Chi, Ki, Dayley and Peanut.
CCTV's special eight-part series, "The Rescue of Hei Mao", captured the hearts of all who saw it and we were inundated with emails from Chinese people who were touched by the dedication and sensitivity of our team in bringing Naji home.
As of Christmas 2006, Animals Asia has rescued 218 bears.
Little "Hei Mao" follows the farmer's wife as she takes a walk.
The crew of CCTV9 film "Hei Mao" and his carers at their home.
Toby Zhang, our rescue centre General Manager, negotiates with the farmer.
The cub is loaded into the vehicle ready for the long drive back to the rescue centre.
The farmer's family, clutching Animals Asia's plush moon bears, say goodbye.
Naji, now settling in and happily munching on sugar cane in his recovery cage.