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Sanctuary buildings unsafe

I’m just about to catch a flight from Hong Kong to Chengdu, but first I wanted to give you a quick update on the situation at the sanctuary and apologise for having to miss the first three events of my US Roadshow, which starts tomorrow.

Our US Director, Alice Ng, who was at the sanctuary recently for our latest bear rescue, will be giving the Boston and Florida presentations on my behalf. So while I’m terribly disappointed that I won’t be able to be there in person, at least I know Alice will be there and will do a great job.

The death toll from the earthquake is now well over 20,000 and the situation on site is much worse than first thought. Although people and bears are safe, thank God, most of our staff accommodation buildings are unsafe and out of bounds.

Many of our team are now sleeping on concrete floors in hastily erected emergency shelters and the holding areas for new bears (the “poly-tunnels”). We are desperately trying to source construction experts to help us assess the damage, but with thousands of people similarly affected in the Chengdu area, we have no idea when this work will be able to start.

Fortunately, the dens were built to be bear-proof, so we don’t think they have sustained any structural damage.

As well as dealing with our own problems at the sanctuary, we will, over the next couple of days see how our vet team can be of assistance in the wider community. Given the increasingly grim news that is coming in, including that whole towns have been razed to the ground, there must be many, many animals in need of help.

So Christie, our China Relations Director has been contacting local animal welfare groups and dog and cat rescue facilities to ascertain the situation and what, if any, help is needed at the present time.

Also, as soon as I arrive in Chengdu, Christie, senior vet Heather and vet team, rescue centre General Manager Toby and I will be heading to Dujiangyiang - one of the main areas affected by the quake - to see how we can help animals on the ground.

With apologies again for having to cancel my first few US presentations ­ and a huge thanks to Alice for taking on the job at such short notice.

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