Food preparation area restored at China rescue centre
Australian celebrity chef leads the ribbon-cutting
On Wednesday 23 May 2012, celebrity chef Simon Bryant joined some very special guests at our rescue centre in Chengdu, China for the official opening of the newly-constructed "bear kitchen".
Simon, best known as "The Chef" in the long running ABC TV series "The Cook and The Chef", has been an Animals Asia Ambassador since 2008 and with his skills in the kitchen ― who better to cut the red ribbon and declare the kitchen officially open?
The original food preparation area was destroyed by the earthquake which devastated Chengdu in May 2008. Funds for the kitchen were donated by animal lovers from across Australia and New Zealand in memory of Assisi, a gentle giant of a bear sponsored by the Auckland Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), who sadly passed away in December 2009, just 10 months after rescue from a bear farm.
Officially named the “Assisi Memorial Bear Kitchen”, the building is the heart of the rescue centre where currently, more than 2,000kgs of fruit and vegetables are prepared each week for the 148 resident bears (this amount increases to a whopping 6,000kg in winter!).
Joining Simon were Gary and Kate Clinton who were there on behalf of the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing. The embassy has supported our work for many years, raising funds through regular sales of home-baked scones.
We were also delighted to have the company of 19 trekkers from Australia and New Zealand who had collectively raised over $60,000 to take part in the China Moon Bear Challenge ― an 11 day trek which saw them visit Beijing, trek the Great Wall and round off their trip with a visit to the sanctuary where they spent time getting an insight into how the sanctuary functions and meeting the brave bears whose rescues they have followed for many years.
Special thanks to Cathay Pacific for sponsoring Simon's flights.