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).
Its been over two years since we’ve had a Roadshow in Australia and even longer since Jill has been to New Zealand, so during the 10 days she was here we really packed in the events knowing her busy schedule meant she wouldn’t be back for another two years at least! But thanks to our small but dedicated team, a handful of committed volunteers in each city, and some very generous sponsors, we were able to put together a Roadshow which took Jill to eight cities in ten days, speaking to 1,200 people and raising more than $200,000.
Jill and Anne with the talents behind “Saving Jasper” illustrator Cedric Baxter (l) and author Nigel Gray.
Richard Collins and Jo Politis present a cheque for $120,000 to Jill.
Our first event was in Perth on Wednesday 7th July and although it was a chilly night, we received a warm reception from our lovely supporters in Perth and soon forgot the cold. Thanks to Nicholas Duncan’s quick wit and ready tongue anything that wasn’t tied down was up for auction and we were absolutely delighted to have Nigel Gray and Cedric Baxter, author and illustrator of “Saving Jasper” present to sign their book. It was wonderful to see Maureen and Brenda and team again from Save Tortured Bears in China who have been supporting this vital work since 1993!
On to Adelaide and an in-studio interview with Carole Whitelock of ABC Radio, a treasured supporter of the bears, before Jill spent the afternoon speaking to around 30 budding vet students at the University of Adelaide all keen to know how they could help the cause. Jill, Jude, Tim and Anne were then treated to a very special evening – dinner at the house of our favourite chef, and Animals Asia Ambassador, Simon Bryant. As you can imagine it was nothing short of fabulous and a real pleasure for us all (as well as a rare night off for Jill).
Our Adelaide event at Sanctuary, Adelaide Zoo was nothing less than spectacular thanks to Joanna Politis and Richard Collins who again pulled out all stops to put on a first class event for 320 guests. > The CEO of Zoos SA, Dr Chris West, made a poignant comment about the terrible treatment of moon bears in comparison to the revered Giant Panda and how he was committed in preventing such suffering to a species on the same level of international protection. Amber Petty had the challenging role of emceeing the large and enthusiastic audience, and she did it with grace and humour and when it came time for the live auction, Tim Thredgold from Toop & Toop had the hands up and the cheque books out for a truly worthwhile cause.
We were delighted to have Dr Katrina Warren and Simon Bryant, our two Australian Ambassadors, together for this event – both spoke with passion about their commitment to the work of Animals Asia. Simon spent most of the night in the kitchen preparing delicious canapés for the guests which were washed down with Veuve Clicquot champagne and elegant local wines from Koltz and Paracombe. The crowd were finally silenced when Jo and Richard took to the stage to announce that the total amount raised from the event was $125,000 and every penny of that would go to the Moon Bear Rescue. An amazing result and the highest ever raised for Animals Asia in Australia from one single event. Thank you Jo and Richard – you really are “Beary Godparents”! Photographer Benjamin Liew was on hand to capture the event on film. To view more photos from the evening click here.
On to Melbourne on Sunday 11th where the Erasmus School was the venue for 150+ very keen and committed Animals Asia supporters. A delightful afternoon tea was prepared and served by the team of volunteers with a few glasses of bubbly donated by Doonkuna Winery. A minor glitch with the audio system was quickly forgotten when Jackie Rees (who recently starred as Madame Giry in Phantom of the Opera), took to the stage for an impromptu performance of “Climb Every Mountain” while her husband, and our favourite emcee and radio presenter, Phil Kafcaloudes kept the event on track and even tried his skills as auctioneer (what a talented couple!!). As always our Melbourne supporters dug deep when it came to the small number of unique bear related items in the silent auction including some stunning black and white photos of the bears with the yellow crescents highlighted and original artworks and sculpture by Melbourne artist and supporter, Nicole Bergmann. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get much better, Sharon Pearson from The Coaching Institute surprised Jill with a very generous cheque which will fund the next rescue of farmed bears.
Our first ever event in Hobart was held at the University of Tasmania and turned out to be an intimate but successful occasion. It was a wonderful night and the 60+ guests really got into the spirit of things when it came to the silent auction and bidding was fierce! It was lovely for us to have so many people working in different areas of animal welfare there to show their support and hear our news. Well worth the trip across Bass Strait! Huge thanks to Professor Paula Swatman who acted as our coordinator leading up to the event taking delivery of all the books and biscuits and liaising with the venue on our behalf.
Our dear - and very generous - friends Mark and Anthony at Teatro Vivaldi created another delicious vegetarian meal for those who attended our Canberra event. As we have come to expect from our ACT Group, it was a wonderful evening which saw special guest, weatherman Mark Carmody showing his nice sense of humour as several jokes were cracked about the unpredicted torrential rain, and as Jill was welcomed by over 100 dedicated supporters, both new and old. Organiser Kieran Fallon also spoke about his new research and paper surrounding the use of bear bile and it's substitute synthetic UDCA, following Jill's exposure of the recent reports out of Vietnam where people have become sick - and even died - after consuming bile from such sick bears. A stronger message this year at this and all the other events, but one which showed that our patience and research is finally paying off.
Tuan Bendixsen, our Vietnam Director with Jude Siekmann in Sydney
Tim Robinson with Justine Walpole whose portrait of a bear on canvas was a hit at all eight events
What better place to hold an event about animals than the Veterinary Science Building at Sydney University? We had a great turn out from our NSW supporters – some travelling from as far away as Taree and Wollongong to see Jill – and we were delighted to welcome two extra special guests – Dr Katrina Warren and our Vietnam Director, Tuan Bendixsen (and his lovely family who were in Sydney on their annual holiday). It was great to have Tuan there to help answer questions about the confiscations of illegally kept bears in Vietnam, in particular our current postcard campaign to rescue 19 bears from a farm in Halong Bay.
With views across the city of Brisbane and the mellow sounds of Dom Frankie playing in the background, the Brisbane Roadshow was an ideal end to the Australian sector of the Roadshow. Professor Deborah Cao from Griffith University, who has played an important role in the proposed animal welfare legislation in China, supported Jill’s stance that a revolution in animal welfare is happening and people in China do care as much about animals as you and I. We were also delighted to have Judy James and Jazz Tyrril-Smart from the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) attend the event. Judy had just the week before supplied Animals Asia with a quote denouncing the use of bears and their parts in Chinese Medicine, a quote which Jill proudly added to the presentation she gave at all eight events. Thank you Judy.
“Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the great global medical systems with an uninterrupted history of use and development spanning 1000s of years. The Traditional Chinese Medicine profession does not need to cage, farm, kill or use bears in order to provide effective and natural healthcare. The international trade in products containing bear parts is illegal and AACMA opposes their use for any medical or cosmetic purposes." Judy James, CEO, AACMA
Last but not least was the final event in Auckland, where the fantastic efforts of Liane Donovan and Vicki Williams ensured that this event was a great success. Once again people had travelled from far and wide to see Jill with a couple coming from as far as Christchurch for the occasion. Bob Kerridge brought tears to Jill’s eyes with a lovely introduction and a cheque for $20,000 raised in memory of Assisi which will go towards the new bear kitchen in Chengdu to replace the one destroyed in the earthquake in 2008. There was a wonderful surprise at the end of the presentation when a member of the audience announced she was from Chengdu and was a committed animal activist, backing up one of Jill’s main points of the Roadshow that change is happening from within.
Finally the raffle, destined to be drawn that night for the great prize of a trek for two in China including two visits to the sanctuary, was very popular. The hush of anticipation was palpable as Jill drew the winning ticket. It was not to be New Zealand’s evening however as WA resident Kellie Murphy took out the prize. Congratulations Kellie.
Thank you to the companies who gave their support to make this Roadshow possible and ensure every possible penny raised goes to the Moon Bear Rescue and our “Friends…or Food? campaign. There were so many willing to come forward with sponsorship, they need their own page to list them all!
Thank you to our fabulous volunteers who worked so hard to ensure every event of the 2010 Roadshow was a great success– without them these events would not be possible.
And Matthew Trigg for his IT Support.
Belinda van Wilgenburg
Leah Van Embden
Gerry van Dooren
Karen Van Dooren
New South Wales
96One Fm – Sydney
ABC Adelaide Afternoon Program – Carole Whitelock
3ZZZ – Melbourne – Itzel Sesma
Radio Australia – Phil Kafcaloudes
Radio 101 - Brisbane
The Mercury – Tasmania “What’s On” Section
The Advocate - Tasmania
Central News Magazine - Sydney
Brisbane News Magazine
Animals Voice Magazine (Auckland SPCA)