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).
Moon bear rescue centres recognised with global award for sanctuary excellence
7 December 2010
Animals Asia Foundation has today been awarded the 2010 Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence for its moon bear rescue centres in China and Vietnam, by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). The award was given to Jill Robinson MBE, founder and CEO of Animals Asia at a ceremony held at Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu.
As many as 15,000 bears across Asia are farmed for their bile, which is used in traditional Asian medicine despite the availability of over 54 inexpensive herbal and synthetic alternatives. In China, the bears can spend more than 30 years in tiny cages and are milked regularly for their bile through crude catheters or permanently open holes in their abdomens.
Animals Asia aims to bring the barbaric practice of bear farming and the bile trade to an end and rescues bears from bile farms through agreements with both the Chinese and Vietnamese governments. The bears are brought to Animals Asia’s sanctuaries to live out their lives in peace and safety.
Previously farmed bears are intelligent animals that require extensive management and care for the rest of their 30 year life span. After years or even decades of being crushed in cages and undergoing bile extraction, they are both physically and psychologically compromised. New arrivals receive life-saving surgery to repair a catalogue of wounds, usually including the removal of badly damaged gall bladders.
Nutritional food is scattered throughout the bear enclosures to encourage natural foraging instincts and prevent dominant behaviour. A rotation of enrichment, food and toys, and an array of enclosure "furniture" such as platforms, climbing frames, swings, hammocks and swimming pools, help the bears to forget their misery on the farms and give them a reason to live.
Ms Robinson commented:
“This award goes to all the people across China and Vietnam, and our supporters around the world, that have made our sanctuaries what they are today. We owe a great deal of thanks to the Sichuan Forestry, the China Wildlife Conservation Association, and Vietnam’s Directorate of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and Tam Dao National Park, the partnership and support of whom has been instrumental in the success of our work. Both sanctuaries have developed and grown thanks to the efforts of every single one of our employees putting their heart and soul into giving each of our bears the care they deserve now they are free from the torture of bile farms.”
Kati Loeffler, DVM, PhD, who nominated Ms Robinson for the award commented:
“Ms Robinson took on the overwhelming challenge of ending the barbaric practice of bear bile farming in China and in Vietnam nearly 18 years ago. Her courage, vision, tireless efforts, devotion to each animal, unflagging commitment, and insistence on the highest standards for the lifelong care of the animals stand as monuments to every animal sanctuary in the world.”
Adam Roberts, GFAS Board President added:
“Ms Robinson and Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue Centres exemplify the essence of the GFAS Carole Noon Award. Ms Robinson serves as a model of courage, effectiveness, and commitment to the highest humane standards, for sanctuary leaders worldwide.”
Mr Cao Liang, Head of Industry Department, China Wildlife Conservation Association commented:
“Animals Asia not only rescues animals that have suffered greatly in bear farms, they share advanced animal welfare concepts with other organisations in China. Through suggestions on designing bear enclosures and providing enrichment programmes they are helping other organisations create a better life for animals.”
The Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence is given annually to a sanctuary or individual who embodies and puts into practice the GFAS philosophy of vision, dedication and excellence in animal care. It memorializes Carole Noon, Ph.D., the founder of Save the Chimps, a Florida chimpanzee sanctuary. She exemplified these traits with an innovative spirit, creating solutions to overwhelming challenges; a deep knowledge of those entrusted to the care of the sanctuary; and a dedication to animals and a determination to succeed that manifested in a commitment to ensure humane and responsible care for the lifetime of each of the sanctuary residents.
Patty Finch, Executive Director of GFAS commented:
“It is very fitting that Jill Robinson receives this award for Jill has consistently demonstrated those same traits in her work at Animals Asia Foundation. These two women are heroic, as demonstrated in their determination to provide sanctuary, despite what others saw as overwhelming odds; and in their ability to work with the governments of their countries to secure a safe haven for the animals they rescued from horrific conditions.”
A $5000 donation accompanied the award, underwritten this year by the Pettus Crowe Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, and the American Anti-Vivisection Society.
Animals Asia works to end bear farming through public education; international campaigns; collaboration with the Traditional Chinese Medicine community, government units, communities and scientists; and the establishment of bear sanctuaries in Sichuan, China (2000) and in Tam Dao, Vietnam (2007) for bears rescued from bile farms. To date, Animals Asia has rescued 350 bears, with expectations for many more.