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).
the signing of our unprecedented agreement with the Chinese authorities in July
2000 to free 500 farmed Moon Bears, Animals Asia immediately set about the hard
work of preparing for the actual arrival of the bears.
Through these pages we post regular updates on the progress of
the rescue, so please be sure to sign up for email updates so
that we can alert you whenever there are new developments.
Here, in Jill's own words, is the story of how the China Bear Rescue began:
"Sometimes we receive a message in life which is hard to ignore.
For me, that message came in 1993 when I walked onto a bear farm
in China for the very first time. Nothing prepared me for that
moment and it was with utter disbelief that I witnessed a scene
which would subsequently change my life and which would start
the dream of the China Bear Rescue.
Bear farming was virtually unknown in the West and it was only
when I heard rumours of a bear farm operation across the border
in southern China, that I joined a tour group from Hong Kong to
witness the practice at first hand.
While the bear farmer and his wife proudly demonstrated their
bile preparations, I stole away from the group and found some
stairs leading to a room below. As my eyes became accustomed to
the darkness, it was as if a horror story was unfolding itself
frame by frame. Row after row of tiny wire cages held living,
breathing bears as prisoners - bears, I was later to discover,
which had spent 13 years of their life behind bars. Resembling
victims of medieval torture, these pitiful animals turned around
to reveal infected, gaping wounds in their stomachs, from which
protruded rusting, metal catheters.
At one point I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and turned around
to see a female moon bear reaching out through the cage. Without
thinking, I took her paw and, whilst gazing into sad, dark, unblinking
eyes, made a pledge that one day I'd be back to set her free.
From that moment, negotiations with the Chinese government began
and I found myself in the middle of a complex, emotional issue
which, not only concerned the welfare of the bears but, surprisingly
that of the people who raised them. As meetings with officials
and practitioners and consumers of Traditional Medicine took place,
a greater understanding was evolving on both sides, with growing
recognition that, although bear bile had held a significant place
in Chinese medicine, there was no doubt that it could now easily,
and cheaply, be replaced with herbs.
For many of the bears, this conclusion came too late, but for
those who are finally seeing their freedom, the original pledge
made in 1993 has now become a reality.
Please join us as the China Bear Rescue unfolds and rejoice with
us that animals who were destined to die, caged and alone, are
at last living a life close to that for which they were born."