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 next 18 months for Animals Asia and the bears will be the most crucial time of all. In China, we are working against the clock before August 2008 to bring home the message that the forthcoming "Green" and environmentally friendly Olympic Games in Beijing means nothing to 7,000 endangered moon bears currently rotting away on the farms. To date, 219 bears have thanked their lucky stars that they have been rescued from a living hell. Still thousands remain on the farms and our work must drive home the message that people in China and across the world are united in calling for bear farming to end, knowing too that the Chinese Government will need help to reach that goal.
Animal Planet one-hour special begins screening We are thrilled to say that "Moon Bears: Journey to Freedom", directed by dear friend of Animals Asia, Libby Halliday, is premiering in Australia, New Zealand and Japan in mid-February 2007; Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and the rest of Asia on 11 March and UK and Europe in June 2007. Do tune in! It gives a stunning insight into the trials and tribulations of working in China while highlighting the beauty and magic of our wonderful rescued bears. We never forget that we could not be making this journey without the help of each and everyone of you!
Bear number 219 has just arrived “home” Just last Thursday, 15 February, Animals Asia became the proud parents of a brand new bear. He was found by local Tibetan people in the spring of 2004 when he was a scrap of a thing weighing only 10kgs in weight, and his mother found dead. "Xiao Hei" (Little Black) was then raised by the Sichuan Army who began to walk him around on a lead in an attempt to train him like a dog. Unfortunately for them, the cub had other ideas and the army personnel soon realised that the little scrap they took over was now developing into a mature adult male – with attitude. He was put in a largish cage, and fed well, but the kind army personnel realised that the bear could be happier and better cared for if he came to our sanctuary in Chengdu.
Although he is not a farmed bear, there is always the possibility that he could have ended up on a bear farm. Regardless of what could have been, there is general agreement in the team that he is without a doubt one of the most handsome bears we have ever seen. We are now contacting potential sponsors on the waiting list for our new three-year-old to be given his first proper name.
Professor Dick White operates on Quantock Quantock originally arrived at the sanctuary in November 2003 with a hernia and a mass of abscesses in his abdomen as a result of the appalling free-drip method of bile extraction. Such was the damage, that Quantock's wound kept opening, which prevented this large and mischievous bear from doing the one thing he loved best of all – playing with his friends. Just this week Quantock once again lay on the surgery table, where he had a "wound under tension" closed in a number of layers by Professor Dick White, renowned Specialist in Small Animal Surgery and Veterinary Oncology, from the UK.
Now, it's a case of fingers crossed over the next six weeks, which is the crucial time for the healing process to complete. A big lad, Quantock will also need to lose some weight as, according to Animals Asia Vet Dr Cath Williams who assisted Professor White, this will also significantly improve the chances of lasting results. Thank you Professor Dick White – it was such a pleasure to have you, Christine and Jenny on site!
Shanghai sculptor Tsao Zhi Rong is immortalising our beloved Andrew Tsao Zhi Rong, famous across China for his incredible sculptures of Chairman Mao, is in the midst of sculpting an altogether different leader – Andrew. Three-legged Andrew was our first rescued moon bear whom we lost to the ravages of liver cancer just one year ago. Tsao was asked by a Chinese artist friend of Animals Asia if he would use his amazing talent to bring our beloved boy back to life, so that everyone who visits our centre will always remember him. He very generously agreed to do the work for free, and is now working on a 9-foot statue of Andrew! Andrew will stand in all his glory at the entrance of our rescue centre! We will keep you updated on progress.
Peanut – life (and the view) are good! Little Peanut, whose name many of you will recognise as the tiny cub who was rescued with his mum from a defunct zoo, thus avoiding any likelihood that he would be sold to a bear farm, was recently spotted surveying the sanctuary from the top of his climbing frame! The other farmed bears that arrived during the filming of the documentary, have all undergone surgery to remove their damaged gall bladders and are gently recuperating. When well enough, they will be integrated together.
Your help has never been more crucial than now Every penny sent to our China Bear Rescue has been spent on the physical rescue of bears and the development of a safe and beautiful sanctuary, on the creation of public education programmes, employment of over 140 Chinese staff, and on research to highlight the gross physical and mental impact farming has on bears. Still this is not enough, and we must continue pushing forward until we see that final decision from the Central Government which must acknowledge the shocking reality of this medieval cruelty, the abundance of herbal alternatives and the fact that no one is going to die for the lack of bile.
Our new Veterinary Paper, out soon, will horrify anyone who reads about the reality of this grotesque industry and the ultimate fate of 7,000 bears still wasting away on the farms. These prisoners are always in our hearts and we will never stop until our job is done and the bears are free.
Thank you for staying with us as our thousand-mile journey continues.
PS: Construction of the first phase of the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre is under way. When complete, we hope to begin the rescue of the first 50 of 200 farmed bears!
Animal Planet's "Moon Bears: Journey to Freedom" is now screening.
The Animal Planet team films Karen Mok, Jill Robinson and vet Gail Cochrane.
Cath anaethetises bear 219 at the Sichuan army camp, while vet nurse Hayley distracts him.
Quantock is unloaded and carried into our rescue centre in 2003.
Quantock shows his open wound as he is prepped for surgery.
Professor White with Quantock after performing surgery to repair his abdomen.
Tsao sculpts the first model of Andrew that the final sculpture will be based on.
A now-confident Peanut surveys the sanctuary from on high.