Danke Germany, Austria and Luxembourg!

I’ve just landed in Barcelona for presentations here in Spain – tired and happy after meeting old and new friends in Germany and Austria. The roadshow there went so wonderfully well thanks to the hard work and slog by our amazing team in Munich – so efficiently aided by our dedicated volunteers and supporters at the various events. Christa, Christine and Chee-Meng worked their socks off to make sure everything ran smoothly – and the week went by in a flash. 

Christie, our China Relations Director, came with me and was able to speak first-hand of the challenges faced by animals and people in her country. She was delighted to meet our supporters face to face and I think they were even more delighted to meet her after hearing about the programmes initiated by her team for making the world a better place for dogs and cats in China.

Heart-warming welcomes came from audiences everywhere. In Cologne, we were privileged to meet Heinz Wiescher from ETN – a group that has been so incredibly generous over the years and has sponsored a whole bear house for our sanctuary in Chengdu. Most of the bears in House 6 are disabled – missing paws, teeth, claws and eyes – but you would never know it watching this group of little delinquents loving (and destroying) their carefully constructed play platforms in the enclosure.

It was wonderful to meet our friend Christiane von Schwind – a TV producer on WDR who many years ago sparked interest for our bears in Germany with her touching stories and gained us many new and loyal supporters. I believe that the story will be shown in the next few weeks on Tiere suchen ein Zuhause – so if you’re able to pick up German TV, please keep your eyes peeled for that! 

On to Hildesheim, where our long-term and passionate supporter, Danielle Sofie, jumped out of a light aircraft – in a bear suit. She has done this many times in the past, but watching her fall many metres from the sky certainly saw hearts in mouths and a collective sigh of relief from the audience as she landed safely on solid ground.

Heinz Habenicht and Manfred Herzog gave her a helping hand and proved once more that supporters of AAF are great at teamwork whenever it’s needed! 

Next it was on to Salzburg – and what an event that was. The location was Gut Aiderbichl – the most magnificent rescue centre for all sorts of domesticated animals rescued from farms and slaughterhouses in Austria. It was truly a place of peace and tranquillity with horses, pigs, sheep, cows, chickens and goats – plus a few unruly dogs and cats – all living together harmoniously. The founder of this peaceful haven is Michael Aufhausser (below), who is famous across Europe for not only rescuing so many individual animals, but causing every visitor to reflect on how our smallest steps can change a world of cruelty for farm animals today.

Lots of animal lovers had come to Aiderbichl, most of them Austrians, to learn more about the plight of the moon bears and at the end of my presentation another surprise was waiting – the Committee of Gut Aiderbichl devoted a special prize for animal welfare each year and this year it was my great honour receive it – naturally on behalf of Jasper and our other four-legged friends many thousands of miles away!

During that day and a half, we were pleased to see presenter Maggie Entenfeller and her film crew from Austrian TV ORF on site and once again devoting so much filming time to our Asian animal projects in a programme that will go out in Germany later in May. 

Another surprise was to meet some of our lovely Luxembourg supporters at Gut Aiderbichl – including Anita and René Claus, who helped us out with some amazing pictures (René is standing with me below).

The next day we were hot-footing it to the Chinese Embassy in Berlin, where we met with Chinese Ambassador Ma Carong and his staff. The meeting had been organised by long-time supporter and friend Frau Alexandra Oetker, who sponsors no less than three bears in Chengdu. Frau Oetker arrived for coffee that morning with her two gorgeous rescued dogs in tow – a lovely start to the day having a little animal therapy before we all rushed off to the Embassy.

Mr Ma Carong was attentive and thoughtful at our meeting, during which we passed over just a few of the 55,000 petitions signed by people in Germany respectfully asking that China accelerate the rescue of farmed bears and close the industry down. 

Christie and I also handed over the horrific new pictures of bears just received – including the 11 that had died from liver cancer – and were pleased to hear Mr Ma promising to forward our evidence and concerns to high-level departments in Beijing. 

Finally we hopped on a plane for our last event in Munich and our meeting with the marvellous Barbara Rütting – a Green MP, actress and author of 18 vegetarian books. I hope she won’t mind me mentioning that she is 80 years old – a walking advert for a healthy diet and beautiful of face and heart. (Barbara is the lady in pink above and below.)

Barbara has helped us so much in political platforms for the bears and it was lovely for us all to just sit down at the end of the event, share some pasta with this passionate, articulate woman, and just relax. 

Also at the dinner we were delighted to meet with Sandra and Roland Schwarzl. Roland is an Austrian athlete who is taking part in the Beijing Olympic Games this coming August – complete with Animals Asia T-shirt! 

The Munich event itself – with such wonderful supporters, more tears for the bears and smiles of hope as projects were outlined to help them – rounded off a perfect roadshow.

All of the events over the past week were filled with friends who have been so dedicated over the years – and we need to thank you all – each and every one of you, for the faith and help you so selflessly offer to bears, dogs and cats so many thousands of miles away in the midst of your own busy lives. Thank you from us all – we had the best of times and can’t wait to return again.

comments powered by Disqus