Media reports told of crowds so big the government had to draft in reinforcements. In Pingle Ancient Town in Sichuan Province, a steady stream of visitors turned into a flood as 200,000 people turned out ready to see the sights.
But not quite everyone had the day off.
Because at the heart of the crowds, despite temperatures topping 30 degrees centigrade, Moonie the Moon Bear, Animals Asia’s much-loved mascot was wowing the youngsters. Mobbed by kids demanding high fives, bear hugs and photos, poor Moonie was run ragged.
Nearby was a specially laid out display of Animals Asia literature detailing the 20-year fight against bear bile farming. Animals Asia’s work was also profiled as part of a local guitar festival
that further swelled visitor numbers.
A moon bear suit in hot weather is quite a trial. In a crowd of 200,000 it takes incredible stamina. Inside the suit were volunteers Jun Gao and Kai Cao both graduate students from nearby Chengdu Sports University. Despite the heat and crowds the pair each finished a four-hour stint covering eight hours in total.
Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson said:
“It was a superhuman effort - above and beyond the call of duty which could be seen as Jun Gao and Kai Cao’s own personal tribute to the stoicism of the moon bears themselves. They figured that with bears suffering up to 30 years locked in bile farm cages they could manage four hours each in the heat and crowds. Their stamina, good humour and dedication were incredible.
“The sheer numbers of Chinese people enjoying Golden Week is a reminder of just how huge this country is. We know we enjoy the support of the vast majority of Chinese citizens and that’s hundreds of millions of people. In this case it was two young students who stepped up and took the lead against bear bile farming in the most incredible way.”
Animals Asia also paid tribute to the staff at the Pingle Ancient Town who hosted Moonie and displayed information on bear bile farming – adding an extra dimension to their guitar music festival and covering the associated costs. The staff involved have since been invited to the Animals Asia’s bear sanctuary in Chengdu where Animals Asia staff are looking forward to hosting them and thanking them personally.