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).
On Saturday 29th September, the thirtieth bear farm in China was closed down for good. At 6.30 pm all six casualties arrived on the back of a truck at the door of our rescue centre in Chengdu having endured a journey lasting several hours. Exhausted, demented with fear and pain, and desperately thirsty, these violent, angry bears were in no mood for kind words or sympathy. From the second they arrived, it was clear that they hated the presence of people and, whilst Boris and his team of workers carefully offloaded the cages, Gail and her team assessed their condition and offered water. No wonder they were angry. All were bone thin - and all but one were missing limbs having been snared in the wild. One poor female was blind in one eye and two had catheter implants protruding from open wounds in their abdomens.
During the next two hours, whilst the girls exhibited violent outbursts of rage, the only boy - named Belton Kleberg in honour of a dearly departed friend, began to calm down. As he was offered banana and dried apricots his rage subsided and he gently pursed his lips for more. Two days later "B" was slurping medicated strawberry milkshake like a child from Vet nurse Bev and mischievously sending his empty bowl spinning across the hospital floor whenever he wanted more food.
A few days later, "Annie" underwent surgery to remove her implant, whilst one-eyed "Gladly" has gained weight in preparation for hers. The difference to their health and temperament in a few short days is startling; whilst none of them are anywhere near recovered, their eyes are beginning to reveal a cautious trust and they no longer explode with rage whenever we approach.
The rescue affects everyone in the team and the local workers at the sanctuary are no exception. Each has their "favourite" bear and the words of "Wei Shao Zhi" about his beloved 3-legged "Andrew" reflect the feelings of them all: "Andrew leans against a tree staring into the distance in the sun. Just like the sculpture of Venus with memories of sadness, fear and pain. His cry tells the story of how he lost his arm and how humans take delight in his pain. At the beginning I was afraid of these animals but now I think they are cute, naughty and lovely. They just need more care and understanding and with AAF they have their home now. We need to educate other people and make sure stories like "Andrew" don't happen again."
Wei and his team are certainly making sure that Andrew and his friends forget their past. Bears, sometimes ten at a time, are tumbling out into the grassy enclosure from their dens, whilst others being integrated together are testing their growing strength in playful bouts which would put world class wrestlers to shame.
Without your support these bears would still be on the farms; caged and forgotten. To all of you who have cared, our grateful thanks for your faith, help and support towards closing down the farms - and bringing these bears home.