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Beijing official to visit bears

This has been a busy weekend away from the China sanctuary for our General Manager (and chief government negotiator) Toby, and me. We flew to Beijing to meet urgently with our central government partners, the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), a department directly under the State Forestry Administration. 

Toby had printed 30 photos reflecting the horrors of the past week and yes, our main aim was to shock. Our best chance of ending this terrible cruelty is to send these images far and wide – including to the hub of the policy-makers in Beijing.

Madam Yang Baijin – the new Secretary General of the CWCA – appeared disturbed, but controlled, in her thoughts and listened as Toby and I spent over two hours outlining the truly shameful condition of our latest group of bears and the never-ending deceit of the farmers. Convinced enough to hear more, Madam Yang has agreed to fly over to our sanctuary at the end of this week and witness the terrible state of the surviving bears for herself.

This is a small, but significant, step that will allow us to convey the horror felt by all of you who have been reading this blog and the shame that bear farming has once again brought upon this beautiful country.

This morning I stayed on for a few hours in Beijing to attend a brunch held by the amazing Olivia Newton-John, one of our long-time supporters. A cancer survivor, and truly beautiful in face and heart, Olivia is spending the next 21 days walking along the Great Wall of China to raise funds to build a very special cancer hospice in Melbourne, Australia. We spoke several times during the brunch and after hearing about our latest miserable sufferers of liver cancer, she said softly... “We must do something more”.

Just now though, she is dedicated to walking the walk for human cancer sufferers and we wish her strength and success in raising the funds and awareness she so desperately needs. Please support lovely Olivia in her endeavours by clicking here.

Now sitting at Beijing airport about to board the flight to Vietnam, I’m excited to be heading to the opening ceremony of our new bear quarantine area and hospital in the beautiful valley at Tam Dao, 70 kilometres north of Hanoi. With bear farming officially illegal in Vietnam, we are hoping that China will follow suit.

Tuan our Vietnam Director and our team there have worked so hard to finish everything in time and, in a few weeks, we should be welcoming around 80 bears from the surrounding farms. In truth, it’s hard to celebrate, thinking of the bears in Chengdu and wondering how many more will die over the following week. By late tomorrow night, I’ll be back there with staff who’ve lived through more grief over the past week than anyone should in a lifetime.

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