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).
Thirteen more moon bears were handed over to us yesterday, 6 February, by the Sichuan Forestry Protection Department and delivered to our Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu.
This brings to 260 the total number of bears Animals Asia has rescued from bile farms in China, which is more than half the 500 originally agreed with the Chinese government in 2000.
Under the agreement, the farmers are compensated for the confiscated bears and the entire farm is closed down. The farmer’s license is taken away and handed to Animals Asia.
In this case however, a farm was not earmarked for closure. Jill explains: “The officials asked Animals Asia if we could take 13 bears that they wanted to confiscate from farmers who had violated regulations.
Of course, we agreed, but to ensure that our original agreement remained in place, we secured their agreement that they would completely close another farm within 12 months. The Sichuan Forestry Department has also assured us that they will not allow the farmers to replace the bears confiscated into our care.”
Arrival and assessment
The bears, which were confiscated from farms in Dujiangyan, arrived at the rescue centre on the back of a truck just after 3.00pm yesterday afternoon, and the centre’s team immediately set to work. The vet team began checking the bears and prioritising those most in need of emergency medical treatment.
Senior vet Heather, vet nurse Wendy, and Jill do a preliminary check of the bears on the truck.
The bears were malnourished and clearly distressed. Some rocked from side to side in agitation while others cowered in terror. “Most of the bears that arrived today had scars and wounds on their heads as a result of repetitive bar-rubbing during their years on the farm. In short, they are cage-crazy”, said Jill.
While they appeared to be in better health than the 28 we rescued in March 2008, it soon became apparent that we had at least one very sick bear on our hands. Named “Shui”, this bear’s abdomen was grossly distended with suspected liver cancer and he had water on his lungs. After an emergency health-check revealed a liver more than three times its normal size, Shui sadly had to be euthanised to end his pain and suffering.
Until the other bears are given thorough medical examinations, we won’t know the full extent of their injuries, but Senior Vet, Heather is already preparing for the worst. “Some of these bears are clearly sick and it will take a few days before we can determine the full extent of their injuries. We fear more may have liver cancer as this is often the case with bears that have been tapped for their bile. But even if we are forced to euthanise others, at least their suffering will be over soon.”
The bears were given nutritious fruit to settle them down and provide much-needed sustenance for their undernourished bodies. We also trust that these new, wonderful tastes and smells, combined with gentle treatment, give the bears comfort, and an inkling that something better is finally happening in their lives.
After the initial assessment, the bears were settled down for the night in the quarantine area with soft browse (straw and greenery to make their beds) and access to food and water.
The reality - face scarred from bar-rubbing, the eyes of one new bear reflect the sadness of the past.