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Snoopy's Christmas Kiss

This masterplan began by researching Snoopy’s favourite treats – acknowledging that attempts last December to woo her with peanut butter amounted to failure of a spectacular kind.

This year, the research and debate raged for days before Bear Manager Pernille confidently assured me that the flavour of the month was strawberry jam.

And so our cunning plan was hatched.

The idea was to see beautiful, blind Snoopy walking out of her den, into the garden for special-care bears, over to the reinforced window that separates my room from her enclosure, before standing up and licking the jam-smeared glass, which had “Seasons Greetings” emblazoned on it.

As Pernille and our "Secret Garden" bear team carefully laid a trail of Snoopy’s favourite biscuits, I got busy decorating the inside of the window and smearing the outside with tablespoons of jam.

A few minutes later, several staff crowded around in my room, as Rainbow set up his video camera. A Christmas CD was popped into the player – and we were ready to begin.

The den doors opened and we hardly dared to breathe as Snoopy sniffed the air and took in the smells around her as she always does. Horror of horrors – ignoring (and carefully stepping over) the trail of bear biscuits, she headed purposefully to the edge of her swimming pool and a breakfast starter of coconut milk and carrots. Our faces dropped. So this is why film directors tell you never to work with animals and children.

For the next 30 minutes, Snoopy delighted in every little morsel of her garden breakfast buffet – except for the strawberry jam. Every now and then she would walk temptingly close to the window, only to veer away at the last second as her nose told her that a morsel even more tasty than jam was in another direction.

As everyone was busy, we decided to come back later in the hope that Snoopy would finally find her Christmas treat. Almost an hour went by before we heard the excited sounds of our bear team – Tiger (Zhang Xiao Hu), Zhang Chengjin and Wang Li on the walkie-talkies telling us all to run back to my room, as Snoopy had now found her prize and had almost licked the window clean.

This was the sight that greeted us – a truly magical moment showing how one blind bear survived farm torture and beat all the odds.

It made us all smile to the moon. It is sent to you, with grateful thanks and big bear hugs, to friends, staff and volunteers across the world, who have given Snoopy and all of our bears a life of meaning and joy.

Click here to see Snoopy's Christmas clip.

And finally, some more good news to share. In March, ophthalmologist Claudia Hartley will be returning to Chengdu to work with Senior Vet Heather and team in helping some of our sightless bears to see. She has already said that Snoopy’s chances are good – and we are keeping everything crossed that next Christmas Snoopy will find her jammy prize on the window – not by smell, but by sight.

It's hard to believe this is the same bear that arrived at our sanctuary in 2003, anxious and trapped in a tiny farm cage.

Tonight, as a beautiful yellow crescent moon shines over the sanctuaries in China and Vietnam, we send you all heartfelt, grateful thanks for the lives the bears have today, and wish you seasons greetings and a happy, healthy and very peaceful 2009.

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