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).
Jill Robinson MBE, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Animals Asia Foundation and Founder of the Dr. Dog programme and has worked in Asia since 1985. She was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth for Services to Animals in Asia in the June 1998 Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Early in the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte warned the West to "let China sleep" : "There lies a sleeping giant", began his famous phrase, "let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world".
Today, China and her people are rising and shaping their country as never before. Massive modernisation, the rapid ascent up the ladders of business and technology and the pride in securing their entry into the WTO and the Beijing 2008 Olympics is transforming the world's most populated country and giving its people a voice.
When a student poured sulphuric acid over 5 poor bears in Beijing Zoo, thousands of people countrywide went online to voice their outrage, whilst others campaigned for new legislation to stop this from ever happening again. The zoo in Shanghai rapidly joined in and stated that it was tearing down antiquated signs and replacing them with those which show the animals plight, in the hope that visitors would look at them with tenderness rather than as if they were merely resources for human use. "Man will treat animals as equals some day", said zoo official Mr. Tang.
In this world where individual animals and entire species are so often tragically branded as renewable resources, or for sustainable usage, this was heartening news. For too long we have let the animals down through ignoring their individuality and mercilessly exploiting them for entertainment, food, trophies and medicine. It is our duty, as people who care, to help turn the tide.
A thousand miles starts with one step - and for the Animals Asia team, we have enormous pride in being a part of the first steps for animal welfare in China. Since signing an historic Agreement with the Government departments of Beijing and Sichuan, to rescue 500 Moon Bears and work towards the end of bear farming, our China Bear Rescue has gone from strength to strength. Today, because of Government cooperation and support from the local community in Sichuan, there are already nearly 140 previously farmed bears who have seen their lives change beyond all recognition.
Our role in Asia is for peaceful change and motivation - and towards ending this unconscionable image of animals as commodities. Showing dogs as our heroes, who can work side by side with Government departments and rescue services in helping and protecting people worldwide, as opposed to the way they're often seen in Asia - together with cats, as just another dish for the table. Our "Friends....or Food?" campaign is seeing overwhelming support from Asia's local community as they support "Simba" the star of our Detective Dog programme, or enthusiastically join our Dr. Dog animal therapy programme in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, India and Japan.
Our emphasis on the "individual" sees free bears such as 3-legged Andrew, 2-legged Freedom and ex-market dog Eddie, challenging the notion that animals are ours to use and pioneering their right to be appreciated for their own sake.
Change doesn't happen overnight however and our work never stops as we continue to cope with the impacts of apathy, reluctance and even obstruction of our goal to end the suffering of animals in Asia. As the species responsible for causing them so much torture, we work towards the day when we can look them in the eyes, having changed their destiny, rather than turning our heads in shame at each new vision of despair.
Thanks to our friends and supporters around the world, the animals of Asia have reason for hope. Thanks to you, the world is being awakened to their plight - and being shaken to help."