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Beijing artists capture bears' sorrow

Husband and wife artists, Zeng Jianyong and Tianmu, have sent us their most beautiful paintings of bears as their generous gift to our Moon Bear Rescue campaign.

Zeng (whose art is worth many thousands of US dollars) shows the innocence, sorrow and vulnerability of caged bears. His work became even more profound for us when we heard that he painted the cage using rust – so perfectly and so tragically reflecting the misery of 7,000 majestic moon bears, suffering in silence in their iron prisons – begging for respect and release.

Tianmu's painting has many influences. The tadpoles are inspired by a famous Chinese cartoon, “Little Tadpoles Looking for Mum” and portray the plight of farmed cubs. The lotus flower on the head has a cross-like stamen and on the snout are the seeds of the lotus - together these convey the process of life. However, this image is cut in half, which Tianmu explains symbolises the tortured life of all farmed bears.

Together their paintings show animals created and destroyed for humankind's benefit, rather than being created for the life they were meant to live.

Like so many caring citizens in China, Zeng and Tianmu are using their talent in defence of the voiceless – art imitating life, and its shameful last breath.

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