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).
Jill Robinson's Update to Chinese Govt. Response to E.U. Resolution
Soon after news of the European Declaration calling for China to end bear farming, and asking the Government to escalate the ongoing closure of the bear farms and the rescue of the bears into the care of Animals Asia, was made public, there followed a press conference held by the Chinese Government in Beijing, rebutting the resolution. They stated that they had no intention of eliminating the practice of bear farming before an alternative to bear bile could be found. They added that it was a necessary component of traditional Chinese medicine, involving a completely painless procedure for the bears.
Jill Robinson was in Beijing at the time of the press conference and was interviewed by many international media outlets, including CNN, Knight Ridder, The Times (UK), Associated Press and the BBC, among others. Below is a letter from Jill to supporters updating them on the current situation:
Dear friends of Animals Asia,
The press briefing on Thursday 12 January 2006 by Wang Wei, Deputy Director of the Department of Wildlife Conservation under the State Forestry Administration, was particularly interesting at this present time. It was not an unexpected reaction to the European Declaration calling on bear farming to end and, we believe, has been guided for the most part by comments which are "vintage" bear farmer propaganda.
Team members of Animals Asia have been fighting for the bears since 1993. During that time setbacks and interventions have challenged our work and progress, but still we remain in China rescuing the bears. We are neither undermined nor overwhelmed by this recent press conference. In many ways we welcome it, as we believe that it will now see greater scrutiny by a greater number of people in China itself – both within Government and without.
It is a fact that the rescue would not be where it is today were it not for our Government partners; the China Wildlife Conservation Association in Beijing, and the Sichuan Forestry Department in Chengdu. They have stated on record that they joined us to bring bear farming to an end, and that they are also authorised to speak on behalf of the Central Government in this respect. It is as a direct result of their help and intervention that over 40 farms have been closed down, and 198 bears have been rescued and brought into our care.
However, it is clear that Wang Wei's current comments seriously conflict with the messages previously conveyed. Suggestions on Thursday that bear bile is irreplaceable, that humane methods of bile extraction exist and that old footage is being used (arguments that we have already heard many times from the bear farmers) – must now be challenged more directly.
Even as recently as November 2005 our investigations have revealed that bears are still incarcerated in tiny wire cages, still wearing full metal jackets, still implanted with catheters, and still suffering obscene impacts to their health and welfare as a result of the bile extraction techniques which they are forced to endure.
We know that the new, so-called "humane", method of bile extraction is causing profound suffering and death to the bears, and we have more recent evidence that newer methods, of which the government is unaware, are now in use. We know too that bear bile can indeed be easily and cheaply replaced. Eminent Chinese doctors have already responded to Thursday's briefing, with Professor Liu Zhengcai stating: "Any other Chinese medicines, such as chrysanthemum, or Western medicines are more effective. Bear bile is not a magic cure."
Finally we have new evidence that the success rate of breeding may not be as high as the bear farmers maintain – individuals have admitted paying rural people to take cubs from the wild to supplement the captive population on their farms, clearly conducting a practice against China's current wildlife regulations.
We sincerely hope that, after many years of requesting such a meeting, and now hearing Wang Wei offer the opportunity for groups to speak directly with his department, that he will now allow the truth of the bear farming industry to be urgently conveyed.
As the only group currently rescuing bears in China, with nearly 13 years of hands-on professional knowledge of their plight, we feel qualified to bring relevant information to Wang Wei's department to clarify the reality of this repugnant, unnecessary industry once and for all. We have also extended an invitation to Wang Wei and his department to visit our sanctuary in Chengdu and are requesting permission to visit the 68 regulated farms that the Government has sanctioned.
Last but not least, our thanks to you all for giving 100% support to this campaign. It is true that we've reached a challenging time once again, but let us use this opportunity to speak out for the bears and expose an industry steeped in cruelty and deceit. Over 7,000 wretched moon bears are relying on our voice and support – they have never needed us more.