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An auspicious year ahead

Before giving you an update on our current bear programmes, please, on behalf of all in the Animals Asia team, can I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year – and the best of everything in 2008. With our 10th anniversary looming on 8 August 2008, and the Chinese lucky number “8” featuring prominently in this auspicious date, we feel that this is going to be a special year ahead.

8/8/2008 is being celebrated across the whole of China as it does, of course, herald the start of the Beijing “Green” Olympic Games. It is also our opportunity of making a heartfelt plea to the authorities here to please give the bears their day and release them from their torture.

One of China’s flagship species, these beautiful Moon Bears have given their lives over nearly three decades for a substance that is so unnecessary in the world of traditional medicine today. Now, as China celebrates being green and environmentally conscious, we ask that these endangered, majestic animals be freed. 

Indeed, taking this message to the new Head of the Sichuan Forestry Protection Department less than two weeks ago, we had a surprising and very welcome message in return. She was listening to our evidence, promising to look more into the industry and, in the meantime, would free bears into our care before the end of March! 

Something not only to celebrate, but to prepare for as we welcome another group of battered, miserable souls “home”. We still don’t know how many bears this means – and may not until after Chinese New Year celebrations are over towards the end of February – but if it is one or 100, the difference to those individual animals will mean the world to them.

In Vietnam, we are still on standby to rescue nearly 80 bears from illegal farms in Ha Long Bay, near Hanoi. The official proposal from the Hanoi Government has at last been responded to by the Prime Minister himself (after frustrating delays towards the end of last year) and more questions must be answered by various other ministries before these bears can be confiscated into our care.

It’s hard to be patient isn’t it? But having seen the PM’s letter for ourselves, we know that the cogs of politics here in Vietnam roll slowly round and we remain confident that sooner or later caged and farmed bears will arrive with our team. After the frustrations and delays of the last couple of years it seems that in both China and Vietnam, something good for the bears is happening at last.

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