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).
I made this journey aware
Of what I would find. Would see.
I thought I was prepared.
But nothing can. No film. No words.
Nor these few lines of mine
Can wrench your heart and haunt your mind
As seeing it yourself. Feeling it yourself.
No words can really tell you.
Should I say torment?
Cruelty? Despair? Hell on earth?
Shall I say prison? Torture?
Nothing screams out the obscenity
Of those barbaric traps..
Yes. Traps of bars- above,
Beside,beneath, no floor
On which to rest those
Rotting, yellowed feet..
The feet of bears who carry
Still the precious moons emblazoned
On their night-dark chests.
That moon is all they have.
There is no sun to lighten
That grim shed, no trees
To soothe the eye, no wind
To stir their fur, no hope
Of kinder days. And why?
It is the bile. Of course, it is the bile.
Extracted, traded, packaged
And sold in pretty phials
For "mankind's" benefit. No kindness here.
Some bears are mad.I know
The signs too well. They sway and rock
And twist. Seeking oblivion.
Even for a minute. Even for a moment.
And then, oh God, this bear I saw.
A huge great glorious beast
Stretched out across the bars.
His back legs up against the side,
His two front legs reached high,
As if to heaven, stretched high and still
Until, suddenly, a paw dropped down
And grabbed his slavering tongue,
And pulled and pulled it out
And out again until I thought
It surely would snap free.
But no, the paw jerked up
Once more - and on and on again.
These dark satanic sheds
Are known as farms. Death Row
I say. Outside the owners offer tea.
I want to put them in a cage
And let them cry. In vain
Not all these innocent creatures
Will find sanctuary. There are thousands.
Only a few will walk on grass,
Climb trees, feel sun and wind. Be loved.
And, as I stood, aghast, the eye
Of one sweet bear looked into mine.
Unflinching. Enduring. Stoic.
Yes, that is the word I seek.
I heard it many times. The stoicism
Of these great animals. And, miraculously,
The rescued ones appear to feel
No malice, bear no grudge, as if
They sense the kindness shown
The affection given.
In all the years I have watched
Imprisoned animals - some neglected,
Some abused, some stir-crazy,
All helpless - this November day
Has been the darkest of them all.
And what a lesson have I learned.
How dare I now complain of cold,
Or tiredness, or waiting for a train?
On behalf of all who cause
This purgatory, I hang my head in shame
And beg the bears' forgiveness in my heart.