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).
Special-Care Area designed for safety and comfort in bears’ twilight years
The River House enclosure surrounded by semi-natural landscape.
All play structures are low-slung to allow easy access for bears with stiff joints.
Crystal delighted in the first exploration of her new home.
In early January 2010, we moved six of our special-needs bears into their new home, the newly completed Special-Care Area comprising River House and Bamboo house. The double house is positioned beautifully along the river in a quiet corner of the rescue centre. The new residents, Bamse, Asia, Kroenchen, Nic, Jurgen and Crystal all took to their new area from the start.
Here's Bear Manager Anna's report on the Special-Care Area:
The building of a bear house of course doesn’t happen overnight, so our project manager Robin Wang, under supervision of Project Director Boris Chiao, has made many walks to the new bear house to ensure the construction team were doing their job. And seeing the Bear Team Supervisor’s reaction must have made Robin proud, as they all agreed it was the most solid house they have seen on site!
The lower designed baskets in the dens are great and the first thing that Crystal did when she was unloaded from her transport cage was crawl in a basket like she has always done it (in her pervious house she had not been seen in a basket for some months now). Such a lovely start to her new life in River House!
As the new house was designed specifically for special-needs bears, the enclosures had to be slightly adjusted from our normal enclosures as well. The size is much smaller, so as to still provide shelter for the bears and hiding places for yummy treats, the horticultural team, under close supervision of Ai, had to adjust their normal structures to this special area. Lower fire-hose hammocks were designed, smaller play structures, more condensed log piles, you name it and the hort team managed to make it all fit!
A huge thanks to them all for going out of their way to finish the area on time and to be able to fit in as much as they have and still leave space for the bears to potter around. Kroenchen has shown that the hammock is the best place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon!
Bear Team Supervisor Howard has been very helpful in ensuring all equipment was moved to the house on time and Assistant Bear Team Supervisor Rocky has been great helping the team the first couple of days when they were getting used to their new house and its residents. And of course a big thanks to the bear team, who have been ensuring the new bears are settling in quickly.
And some personal observations on the six new residents from those who know them best:
She has been with us since 2000, after arriving having been declawed and detoothed on the farm. She also had an obscene latex catheter, which exited from her gall bladder, snaked underneath her skin and emerged at the hip. A gorgeous elderly girl today, with a curly, ebony black coat, a sweet inquisitive face and a beautiful lemon crescent, Crystal was one of the original “knitting circle” of four girls until best friends Joy, then Gail died. Heather is left from the group, but the two of them are not so close as they were before. Today Crystal’s mobility problems are increasing where she is becoming rather stiff and slow, necessitating a smaller area in which to roam and enjoy her time outside – Jill
Lovely old lady who hasn’t used a basket in months. Her mobility has steadily deteriorated and whilst she has been going outside every day with the other bears at House 6 her activity has been minimal. When we loaded her into the transport cage it was like she instinctively knew that she was off to a bright new home. She took the journey in her stride (so to speak) and calmly and patiently waited whilst the moving team wheeled her into position. Once at the house and the slide to her new den was opened it took her a few minutes to notice. She seemed more interested in what Kroenchen was doing across the corridor. Once she realised, she pottered out and to everyone’s delight, she climbed straight onto the specially designed low beds. – Nic
Lovely easy-going Jurgen arrived with us in 2002 and, like Crystal, is becoming old and slow. Jurgen has all four canine teeth missing and cloudy eyes, but is super handsome with a big V-shaped crescent and triangular white snip of fur on his nose. Despite his physical handicap, he still loves to play and potter about and will love his retirement home in the sun. – Jill
A well-known and lovable old duffer. Like his old mate, Nic, he has daily pottered about in the enclosure, sleeping large parts of the day but always returning in time for dinner. Despite his very poor hind legs, he has maintained his daily climb up and down to his basket in House 5. That said, he happily arrived at his new home and enjoyed the wonderful new beds and a smaller enclosure to find food with just Nic for competition for the tasty treats placed in their enclosure. – Nic
Nic also arrived in 2002 – stiff and slow, with some liver problems. Nic is a big boof of a bear with a baggy belly which is quite badly scarred, and he's nearly toothless after having so many bad teeth removed. Nic is already used to lots of spoiling – including a special treat of his favourite mashed potato when he's off-colour! – Jill
A funny and lovely character, who like others, and is a “mobility bear”, manages to get about reasonably well although sometimes finds his hind legs going on a wet, slippery floor. He, despite all this, has enjoyed some playful interactions with other bears, including his fellow house mate, Jurgen. Despite several visits to hospital over recent years for this move, he had to take a journey on the back of the truck. He cried all the way, uncertain and worried. This very quickly subsided when he arrived at his new home, perhaps realising he’d been upgraded! – Nic
Featuring in this year's calendar, Asia is our well-worn teddy bear, who arrived with us in 2000. A gorgeous elderly lady with beautiful eyes and a distinctive pale muzzle – but with chronic skin and ear problems that have never completely been resolved. She’s a sweetheart, who likes to stay outside in the enclosure and potter around and has favourite resting places – especially up high. – Jill
She arrived with us in 2005 and has had multiple surgeries ever since (including from UK surgical specialist Dick White) to try and fix her herniated abdomen. Alas the damage is too great, and now she and her bulgy belly live contentedly alone. Kroenchen is quite happy being a solitary bear, quite lazy but utterly gorgeous with a huge ruff of hair. She's been moved to the special-care area, where there are specially designed play structures for her to enjoy without risking damage to her hernia. – Jill
This beautiful handsome bear, arrived weighing around 80kg in February 2009, diagnosed with kidney failure after blood tests and a kidney biopsy, on medical management and a special diet, so is not integrated with other bears and gets special food. Now weighs 120kg and is just gorgeous. – Heather
Please check back for an update from Anna very soon, to see how everybody is settling in.