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).
Amazingly, Mafi managed to put the horror of her past behind her, spending four happy years at the rescue centre.
Mafi, our beautiful ambassador bear, whose photo appeared on the cover of our 2008 calendar and also on the cover of our recently released photo book “Freedom Moon”, died on 12 March, the latest victim of liver cancer. Sadly, we had only recently chosen Mafi as one of our official ambassador bears by including her as one of the bears in our Befriend a Bear programme.
When Mafi, whose name means “forgiveness” in Hindi, came to our Chengdu Moon Bear Rescue in 2005, she was a deeply distressed bear. Her years of torture on a bile farm had left her extremely frail, anxious and prone to stereotypic pacing and rocking.
We’re not sure how long Mafi spent caged on a farm in Sichuan, but it was long enough to cause irreparable damage to her gall bladder and to plant the seed for the massive liver tumour that ultimately took her life.
During her hellish years on the farm, Mafi was crammed into a tiny cage and milked daily for her bile through a permanent hole that was carved into her abdomen and gall bladder. Each time the farmer extracted bile, he would use a tube or rod to prod open the infected wound, which was naturally trying to heal. The constant pain this poor bear endured for so long is impossible to imagine.
In the early days of her rescue, Mafi refused all food until our bear carers convinced her to try sedative-laced fruit smoothies, which eased some of her anxiety. Over time, she started to respond to the care and attention lavished on her by her carers and the real Mafi began to emerge. Amazingly, she not only recovered, but took to her new life of freedom with the exuberance of a child.
Naturally curious and playful, Mafi was often the first bear to try out new rehab equipment, such as “her” beloved swing, that kept her enthralled for hours at a time. She was with us for four years, and right up to the end, she delighted in robust play as if each day were her first day of freedom.
True to her name, Mafi managed to put the past behind her, forgiving the species that had caused her such agony.
Mafi spent years in this agonisingly tiny cage, barely able to move, let alone stand.
The sanctuary’s rehab equipment was an instant draw for this intelligent, curious bear.