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).
Animals Asia UK was delighted once again to welcome Jill over for a brief visit in June and to grab the opportunity of holding several events with a difference. Typically, Jill insisted on flying into the UK directly from the very successful but incredibly busy Asia for Animals Conference held in Chengdu and hosted by Animals Asia. This saw a very exciting total of 350 animal advocates, representing countries across Asia, discussing solutions to animal welfare issues.
But not content to rest on her laurels after this event, Jill hopped on a plane to be in London on 17 June to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of our wonderful patron, Virginia McKenna OBE at The Savoy Hotel, London.
This was a glittering event, full of nostalgia and celebrities and wildly successful but, typically, Virginia refused to let it focus on her “other” career and made an impassioned speech for wildlife and for each and every single animal. Jill took this opportunity to meet up with and thank Joanna Lumley for her interest and contribution to Animals Asia’s Healing without Harm campaign.
Strategic help Two days later, our incredibly generous supporter, Oliver Lodge, together with his wife Gitte, gave a lunch party for new and existing major donors so Jill and Dave Neale could outline the future strategic needs of Animals Asia to further the fight to end bear farming. Thanks to the generosity of those attending, we obtained sponsorship for the crucial research project into the users of bear bile. This will help us understand who and why people continue to take bear bile and thus finesse our education efforts to persuade them to give it up in the future – one of the most effective ways of destroying the bear bile trade.
Saving the moon bears joint talk The final two events were more a celebration of joint initiatives. On Wednesday 22 June, Jill headed up to Edinburgh to do a joint presentation with Dr Heather Bacon, our erstwhile Veterinary Director, at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh. It was a delightful opportunity reconnect with our Scottish supporters and to celebrate the new collaboration between the Royal Dick School and Animals Asia to enhance veterinary training in China and to emphasise concepts of animal welfare. Heather now has a new joint role with Animals Asia and as Veterinary Education and Outreach Manager with the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies. We were very grateful to the Royal Dick School for donating this stunning new venue for the event and look forward to more work together in the future.
At this event, we also took the opportunity of playing the highly emotional short film produced by artist Richard Symonds, made during his recent visit to the Chengdu sanctuary with sculptor Suzie Marsh, to gather material for their exhibition next year in aid of Animals Asia. Please do watch this space for further information, as it will be a very special event.
Two voices for Animals On Thursday 23 June, we finally held our long-cherished joint event with Born Free Foundation and our fabulous patron, Virginia. Entitled “Two Voices for Animals”, this was very different from our usual roadshow events, as it was an “on the sofa” chat, brilliantly compered by the lovely Paul Martin. Paul had to use all his skills to gently guide two such passionate advocates for animal welfare on the stage together and yet bring the event to a close before midnight! Without him, and with the interest of the audience, the event could have turned into a marathon and we might still be there even now!
It was a fantastic opportunity for the audience to hear about what inspired Jill and Virginia, their motivation and their hopes and plans for the future. How fitting that just before the event started, Virginia got news that following a debate in the House of Commons that afternoon (at which Virginia had been present earlier in the day), MPs unanimously agreed to support a motion to ban wild animals in circuses under the Animal Welfare Act – a stunning victory for all those who have campaigned for so long to end this cruel practice.
This was a busy but really enjoyable few days, giving us, once again, the opportunity to meet up with supporters - old and new - and allowing Jill to impress on everyone the great strides forward currently happening in China on animal welfare issues. And a big thank you to all our supporters who supported our events.
Joanna Lumley and Jill.
Oliver Lodge welcomes guests.
Heather, Jill and Gill with Royal Dick School staff plus volunteer Lesley Winton.