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).
With the issue of Guizengtang Pharmaceutical Company's IPO application dominating the headlines in China, reports of celebrity support began to flow in.
The Ta Foundation, a local animal welfare organisation founded by a group of influential media figures, made an appeal signed by 72 prominent people, including well-known lawyers, TV hosts, actors and animal rights advocates.
On 19 February, the foundation held a press conference to condemn bear farming and to promote the synthetic alternatives to bear bile. Hundreds of clinical trials have shown that there is no clear difference between artificial bear bile and natural bile, yet synthetic bile has not been approved by China's drug authority.
The conference aimed to highlight this issue and ultimately get approval for the drug. This would counter the frequent claim from the bear farming industry that there is no alternative to bear bile.
Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming visited our sanctuary on 18 February, and spent time at the Bear Hospital where he saw a bear that had been farmed using the "free drip" extraction method undergoing a health check.
Yao Ming is one of China's best-known athletes and is well-loved by the Chinese people. He achieved international stardom as one of the tallest players in the American NBA, playing for the Houston Rockets for eight seasons.
After taking in the sight of over 150 free bears playing in the grassy enclosures, before witnessing the graves of those that had died, Yao Ming left us with the following statements in support of ending bear farming:
"Moon bears are beautiful animals in nature; let's love and care for moon bears together."
"Support Animals Asia and help the moon bears."
"I am against bear farming and want it to end"
Animals Asia has called for a timetable for bear farming to be phased out – a phased timetable is preferable to an overnight ban, as the welfare of thousands of bears hangs in the balance. The public opposition to bear farming is now so great that we're hopeful that we're closer to meeting this goal than ever before.
What can supporters do to help?
Please support Yao Ming, the Ta Foundation and the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in China now pressing for change.