Special visitors for Summer Camp

Our Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu had a wonderful lift just recently – with 36 visitors from across China staying with us on site for our Summer Camp.

With the theme, “Have fun with the moon bears”, we were joined by students, teachers, academics, and animal welfarists from nine cities across the country – caring people who are determined to make a difference, spread the word and join the call for ending bear farming and the consumption of dogs and cats in Asia.

Ms Li Jie has recently retired as an official from the Lanzhou Forestry Department, where she had been helping to educate the local community about the plight of bears and companion animals.

Since October 2008, she has organised 16 major activities, including presentations outside the bear enclosure at Lanzhou Zoo, in Gansu Province and primary school presentations where university students teach younger children the importance of respecting dogs and cats, rather than seeing them as food for the table.

It was wonderful to have her now representing “Lanzhou Green Volunteer Home” – and to proudly welcome her on site to finally see the bears she has so tirelessly helped.

Mr Zhang Lihui has been similarly active in welfare education. Mr Zhang is a teacher at Fushan Beitai Primary School, which is in Fushun city, Liaoning Province – one of the four major bear-farming provinces.

He is working hard to promote awareness of the suffering of farmed moon bears and our rescue project. Mr Zhang organises more than 200 students to take part in roadshows and donation drives, and to distribute their own beautifully hand-crafted leaflets to the community.

Kind Mr Zhangyao has been helping Animals Asia since 2004, and was one of the main organisers of the “I Love Moon Bears" ceremony at Datiankan School in Chengdu, which saw the passionate, creative, involvement of over 2,000 students. He also helped to organise our Professor Paws ambassadors to visit a damaged school in the Sichuan earthquake area, cheering up children who had lost family and friends in the disaster.

We also had students from Chengdu Traditional Chinese Medicine University, Shanghai University and Southwest Science & Technology University during three days of presentations, where Rainbow, Sailing, Suki, Jacky and Irene organised events and lectures to fill the day with fun and learning.

Tears were shed as the group was invited into the surgery when we said a sad goodbye to Syntegra who was gently euthanised on the table after it was found that she had inoperable liver cancer. Li Jie couldn’t help herself – crying in sympathy for bears “still suffering in such horrible conditions on the farms”.

Smiles soon returned when our visitors were invited to clean and enrich the bear enclosures and to make novel toys for the grateful four-legged residents.

Presentations were interspersed between the practical work – with Rainbow talking about animal-welfare in general, Suki giving a “Friends....or Food?” presentation (which also saw several of our Chengdu Dr Dogs coming on site to say hello and Jacky lecturing on how to coordinate a successful education activity.

Discussions within the group also led to a new idea: “Love Moon Bear Week”, planned for April next year, to coincide with Earth Day. This will compel many people across the country to become involved in a day celebrating this endangered and charismatic species.

As Sailing proudly said at the end of the visit, “Summer camps are particularly important in helping to train organisers in different cities and schools across China. They can then carry out promotional work and encourage a shift in attitude among those they reach. This summer camp really impressed them a lot!”

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