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).
As the rescue continues, each day brings its highs and lows. Whilst cutting bear number 50 out of her cage, we were sickened to discover that the bars had actually been welded together! The atmosphere which had been full of hope with our first landmark figure - 10% of the total of 500 bears we would save - suddenly turned sour. After a nail biting 10 minutes using an industrial cutter, the gate fell open and we pulled a gently sleeping bear into the fresh air for the first time in her life.
This beautiful bear has a lifetime of physical and mental problems to overcome: a rusting catheter in her stomach, teeth broken and worn as a result of frustrated "bar biting" and paws with claws that had grown into the soft pad tissue. Hair loss on her head shows the repetitive trauma of head banging which would have painfully relieved some of her boredom. During the health check, she had blood taken, teeth scaled, ears and wound checked and cleaned, limbs checked for arthritis - she then woke up in a roomy recovery cage to stretch for the first time in her life. Now prioritised into the queue for surgery, she is adapting to space which allows her to stand, groom and move muscles, atrophied from her years of confinement on a farm.
She is just one example of so many who tell the truth of the misery of bear farming. Tragically, "Mona" and "Hairy Mary" were not so lucky - both died from peritonitis (inflammation caused by the seeping of bile into the abdomen) as a result of the original surgery to tap their bile. As we sadly buried them with a cross on their graves, we pledged that they would not die in vain and would tell their tragic story again and again. Bear farming, catheter implantation, the new "free dripping" technique (which requires no catheter) - all are unconscionable in the face of so many freely available alternatives to bear bile.
For the bears who recover, their lives are changed beyond all recognition. With 23 catheter removal surgeries complete, the sanctuary is growing full of recovering bears. Each day, we encourage bears now in dens to stretch up on depleted hind legs for treats such as strawberry jam and honey (what else!), whilst gradually being integrated with each other in groups ranging from disabled cubs, to small declawed females, to those which are equally matched in size. Gentle two-legged "Freedom" is now integrated in a den and free to wander on grass with our two beautiful cubs and an old, old lady called "Asia". Just recently, "Kalina" joined the team and we watched with teary eyes as they climbed up together and shared the hanging basket beds which give them much needed security and warmth.
As we finally let them outside into the sunshine and on to grass, they at first tread gingerly, preferring the security of cement underfoot. But pretty soon, they are playing tag with each other, climbing up playground apparatus and stretching to eat treats stuffed into vertical hanging logs. "Double Happiness" recently frolicked with "Andrew", Ginny" and "Melody" and then burst into her first full length sprint in the sunshine; the comparison between this and some 20 years in a cage could not have been more extreme!
It can only get better.....please tell your family, friends and colleagues that the China Bear Rescue is making a difference and ask them to join us. "From Farms to Freedom".