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A time for sorrow, a time for hope

Looking back over the past few weeks, it all seems a bit surreal. We’ve waited so long and worked so hard to free more bears and now 11 of them are dead. Some of these poor souls were at deaths door, but others would most probably have lived on for many months in unrelenting agony, so at least we were able to save them from that.

It’s been hard on us all and the tragedy of the spring 2008 rescue will haunt us for years to come – but we still have 17 survivors and they represent the future.

I chose these three photos to show you, as I think they sum up how we’re all feeling right now. The first of Toby our General Manager (on the left) and Rainbow, our PR and Education Manager, just before the funeral of three of the bears we lost.

Seeing their bodies lying on grass, it was even more poignant that these bears had never been able to experience this simple pleasure when alive. Toby and Rainbow’s faces say it all.

The next two are of Chen, one of our lovely, patient bear workers, whose kindness is gradually winning over the new arrivals.

Here, she is pictured preparing food and feeding Watermelon, our bear of hope. As I’ve mentioned before, we fear this beautiful boy may have been robbed of his natural intelligence by the brutal treatment he received on the farm.

But Chen and the other hands-on Chinese staff will be by his side day in and day out for as long as it takes for this big, gentle bear to recover enough to be released into a semi-natural enclosure.

Brave Watermelon and the 16 other survivors couldn’t be in better hands. From now on, they will know only kindness. Here’s what Chen said when asked how she felt about the new arrivals:

“I was very sad on the day these new bears arrived. They were kept in such tiny cages. I am happy to see them moved to bigger cages after their health-checks. It takes about 10 days before we see their friendly eyes. It’s so pleasant to see they become so playful when we put in the branches and all the different toys. What a reward to see these changes. I hope all the farmed bears can recover very soon.”

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