Our recent roadshow in Germany and Austria was a wonderful success. Jill had barely time to catch her breath after landing in Cologne on 25 April before she was whisked off to the University of Cologne. A lecture hall, bursting at the seams with supporters, was our first stop for the presentation where Jill and Christie Yang, our China Director, received a warm welcome. Both of them gave presentations on the current situation in China with a moving account of the latest bear arrival on 31st March. Information from Christie’s presentation on the latest developments in China on the work of animal welfare groups, new and old, and the support they receive from Animals Asia, was new to our supporters and they were all the more delighted to hear of the progress being made in China for dogs and cats.
We also met Heinz Wiescher, president of ETN, which in the past has generously sponsored a bear house at our Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu.
Jill also had time to meet up with Christiane von Schwind, film maker with the WDR TV station. Her TV portrayal of Jill a few years ago in the ZDF series “37°” made a huge contribution in bringing Animals Asia’s work into the homes of viewers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Her new report with footage on the presentation in Cologne will soon be shown as part of a popular TV series on animals.
From Cologne we went on to Hildesheim, home of Danielle-Sofie, who for years has been supporting Animals Asia by doing what she loves most – parachuting out of a small propeller plane in a bear costume. Our heart-felt thanks also to Heinz Habenicht and Manfred Herzog who helped her organize this spectacular event.
Next on the schedule was Gut Aiderbichl near Salzburg, Austria, and what an overwhelming setting for Jill’s third presentation! On the ridge of a mountain, this animal shelter is, as she said, a place of peace, where all animals live happily side by side. The Gut Aiderbichl staff spoilt us with their lavish hospitality. Thanks to founder Michael Aufhauser, who let us use this wonderful site for our presentation to over 300 supporters – and who topped it all by awarding Animals Asia with the Gut Aiderbichl prize of 5,000 Euros. Jill, of course, was absolutely delighted to accept the prize. Another bonus was the extensive TV coverage.
Despite the time taken up by filming, we still had time for our friends and supporters. Jill and Christie gave absorbing presentations - as always - with many compelling highlights, and many supporters afterwards, still visibly impressed, seized the chance for a few personal words and a quick photo with Jill.
A very pleasant surprise in Gut Aiderbichl was bumping into our friends from Luxembourg, Anita and Rene Claus, who also helped out by taking photos (Rene is next to Jill).
Berlin was our next destination, where we had a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador, Ma Canrong and his staff – thanks to Alexandra Oetker, patron of Animals Asia in Germany, who arranged for this meeting. Ambassador Ma was an attentive and reflective party in our meeting, where we also handed over 55,000 petitions from our supporters in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The message was polite, but clear – please help to end bear farming soon.
Jill and Christie also handed over some grim photos of the newly arrived bears, including the eleven dead, who suffered from liver cancer. We were heartened by his promise to forward these pictures and our position to high-ranking government officials in Beijing.
After the meeting with His Excellency, it was a big rush to catch the plane to Munich for the last presentation. Barbara Ruetting, MP in Bavaria of the Green Party and their spokeswoman for animal welfare, with a dazzling career as actress and author of 18 vegetarian cookbooks, introduced Jill to the audience. She has also helped us find a footing at the political level in Germany. And at the end of the day, it was just wonderful to relax over pasta and spend some light-hearted moments with this lovely, talented woman.
Joining us for dinner was a couple from Austria, Sandra and Roland Schwarzl. Decathlete Roland will represent his country in Beijing in August – in an Animals Asia t-shirt.
The Munich event was the icing on the cake to a perfect roadshow – with wonderful supporters, tears for the bears, and enormous hope in reaching our goals.
All events this week were only made possible by our friends, loyal to our bears, dogs and cats all these years. Our thanks to them for their faith and tireless help - we’re already looking forward to the next roadshow.
Jill, Christie and the Animals Asia crew in Munich
The roadshow in Hildesheim got off to a flying start with Danielle-Sofie parachuting in a bear costume
Jill was warmly received everywhere by our supporters
Meeting with the Chinese Ambassador Ma Canrong in Berlin. Thanks to Alexandrea Oetker, Animals Asia's German patron, who helped arrange the meeting
Gut Aiderbichl is set in a very beautiful, natural Austrian environment, especially interesting for Christie Yang on her first trip to Europe
Michael Aufhauser presented Jill with the Gut Aiderbichl prize
On 31st May Austrian TV station ORF2 had 2 reports on Jill in Gut Aiderbichl
Friends from Luxembourg in Gut Aiderbichl - on Jill's left is René Claus
Charismatic Barbara Ruetting introduced Jill to the audience at the final presentation in Munich