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).
Following up a call from an elderly couple in November 2003, who had decided to close their small bear farm and give up their remaining bear, we found Ashley, a lonely caged bear in a dark little shed, behind their shop on a busy village street. After Gail anaesthetised him, an emergency health check was performed in the middle of the pavement, in front of 100’s of fascinated spectators. A sleeping Ashley was then brought back with us to begin his new life at the Moon Bear Rescue Centre.
The next day he was joined by another 37 rescued bears in a ghastly state. Working steadily over 2 bitterly cold days, we offloaded a stream of traumatised and terrified bears. We watched, sick to our stomachs, as the lorries backed in - listening to heart-wrenching "hoots" as the bears cried out in panic and pain. The agony that these living "bile machines" had suffered was only too clear: some were painfully "de-clawed and de-toothed", some with only 3 legs after being viciously trapped in the wild; many with abdomens bulging due to massive hernias and infected wounds, as a direct result of the crude surgical methods used to cruelly "milk" their bile.
One of the bears “Snoopy” had an unusually tragic disability. This poor bear was completely blind - and all new sounds and touches made her "jump" with fright (including the straw we gave her to make a comfortable bed for the first time in her life). Today, Snoopy is much calmer and happier, but will always be one of our "special care bears" needing extra love and attention as she tries to forget her past.
Their cages resembled rusting metal coffins, which the bears had grown into - until they could grow no more. Tiny square holes where they had to force their faces through to feed, resulted in worn and scarred muzzles from years of rubbing relentlessly against iron bars. Little "Quantock" had even worn his nose right down - but showed no anger or accusation and gratefully guzzled his first meal in a roomy recovery cage, before lying on his back for the first time in decades and playing with a rubber toy with all four feet in the air. Moved into the Quarantine area, our new patients joined Ashley and little cub “Sunshine”, who was found just in time......
We received a request for help from local Government officials who advised that a bear was being held illegally in a house. Bear Manager Tim and Vet Nurse Claire entered the tiny, rundown building and found a terrified cub cowering on the owner’s bed - with an ugly, bloody snare wound around his abdomen. As they gently scooped him up in a blanket and brought him back to our Hospital, they realised that he had obviously been caught in the wild......and was destined for life on a bear farm.
Slowly and timidly, Sunshine is responding to our wonderful, gentle nurses, who are building up his little body and his confidence, in preparation for his new life in the Sanctuary with the big boys and girls.
Today, the serious work of healing the new arrivals, overseeing their health checks, long, long surgeries and administering masses of tender loving care has begun. Tragically, we have lost 5 very sick bears – now cremated and given names of our world, such as "Forest" which might one day take them to a place which they never found on this earth - and always inspiring us to free ever more bears and end a practice which should never have begun.
One of our inspirations today is the accelerating support from people in China….horrified journalists pour into our Sanctuary, appalled by the sight of the new arrivals - then leave uplifted and inspired after seeing healthy bears playing in the rehabilitation area and bamboo forest. Huge publicity China-wide followed the recent bear arrival and resulted in over 15 newspaper and magazine articles and a 2 hour documentary on CCTV (State run television). In addition, Sina.com, a major mainland web portal, ran an online survey in December 2003, posing the question: "Should China end bear farming?" 10,000 "hits" later the answer was clear, with a resounding "Yes" from 90% of the respondents!
As we are busily preparing our new Educational classroom for school visits, more and more Chinese supporters are contacting us by phone and email and voicing their disgust that such a barbaric practice could be happening in the country of their birth.
Helping fuel this momentum are Government officials and Chinese doctors in Sichuan, who are now speaking out publicly and encouraging everybody to consider the animals and replace bear bile with herbs. Our presentations at Chinese Medicine Universities and local schools, rally students to join in calling for an end to bear farming. Even bear farmers themselves are contacting us - with one admitting that the industry is "going nowhere". The bears' story is clearly touching the hearts of everyone who hears it - and makes us even more confident that our goal of ending bear farming in China will be achieved.
Today, the total number of bears rescued since October 2000 is 139 and we are preparing for dozens more caged victims this year. The China Bear Rescue is going from strength to strength. Your kind gift, no matter how small, not only ensures that suffering bears are being helped as never before, but also enables us to educate and inform the Chinese public. It is this growing momentum within China that will end bear farming forever!
From all of us in Animals Asia, grateful thanks and big bear hugs!
Emergency health check for “Ashley” in a busy street
Blind “Snoopy” was terrified of every sound & touch