Tens of thousands of Chinese people spell out their love for moon bears
20 May 2013
A month of activities aimed at raising awareness of bear bile farming and celebrating China's moon bears has seen 30,000 people take part.
These ranged from primary and secondary schools to events on University campuses. Even staff from shopping malls were keen to join activities as mall staff at Chengdu Hualian were allowed to leave their posts to form a giant heart showing their "moon bear love" to customers.
It coincided with extraordinary displays from young people across China. Thousands of school children banded together on playing fields and schoolyards - standing, lying down or sitting together to forms gigantic words and pictures of support.
In Tianjin Jixianli Primary School, hundreds of kids lay down to form the face of a huge bear. Such was their dedication of Taiyuan Chaoyang Street Primary School children that they were not put off by a foot of snow as they layered up and spelled out their own message, their brightly coloured clothes standing out on the icy white carpet.
At Ordos School, part of Beijing University, hundreds arranged themselves in the shape of a giant bear - a moon bear so big it took a donated helicopter ride to photograph it properly.
Originally called Love Moon Bears week, activities and support have continued to grow and now encompass a whole month. Last year 28 schools were involved, this year that more than doubled to 57. The geographic spread saw events covering 20 cities in 16 provinces.
The activities were overseen by Animals Asia China staff from their base in Chengdu with support of many hundreds of volunteers across the country. Additional activities included workshops and training covering animal welfare. Participants of all events signed a promise to say they'd never use bear bile.
Elsewhere there were stalls and events at Universities and volunteers in bear costumes literally dancing the streets to the amusement of passers by.
Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson said:
"I was lucky enough to attend a number of events and to see and enjoy the enthusiasm and dedication of everyone involved. It's not easy sometimes for the West to gauge Chinese opposition to bear bile use but it is huge. We are talking millions of people right here, right now championing the bears. Every single indicator suggests the overwhelming majority of people are on their side and are right behind them. In terms of public support this is not a divisive issue, the Chinese people have made their thoughts entirely clear. Over the years, the campaign against bear bile farming has often been a sensitive one, but today it is clear that the issue is finally mainstream and even schools are engaged and involved, with support and numbers growing all the time.
"In putting together these events we were inundated by people who wanted to take part. They wanted to create, volunteer, donate, sign something, sing, dance, entertain - they wanted to line up behind what Animals Asia stands for, just as we stand shoulder to shoulder with China's animal welfare activists and now the public too. People want to be able to say that when bear bile farming eventually ends –they helped make it happen. This was a mammoth set of events that staff worked around the clock to make happen too - it should have left us exhausted - it didn't it recharged us. It has been incredible."