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Art from the heart

Their eyes shone, their mouths grinned and their cheeks glowed pink with shyness as they walked up on to the stage to collect their prizes. Chosen out of 15,000 children across China, these were the 22 talented prizewinners who had run with the theme "Saving the Moon Bears" and rose magnificently to the challenge. 

They painted, they drew, they wrote – all from the heart – describing in their own unique way how much bears suffer on the farms and what everyone can do to help set them free. The pictures were absolutely glorious – an honest interpretation of how a caged or free bear feels, all coming from the hearts of children who care. 

Organised and funded by the Standard Chartered Bank, the competition was a runaway success, with the children and their parents from five cities of China competing for the "golden prizes" of plaque, certificate and a huge plush moon bear. Here are six gold medal winners’ fabulous artworks.






Over one hundred people came to our sanctuary for the prize-giving ceremony in front of the Chinese media – with speeches, a tour of the bear enclosures, a chance to see a gently sleeping Nina bear having a health-check on the surgery table, a cuddle with some of our devoted animal therapy Dr Dogs, and a delicious vegetarian lunch. 

Bear Team Supervisor Rocky told everyone the story of our newly rescued cub, Jingle, who now has a Chinese name of “Tian Jiao” (favoured one) and the children’s eyes grew wide as they learned about her lucky escape from a farm. 

Then there was Moonie (actually Senior Education Officer Jacky inside a moon bear costume), playing the fool and making all the children laugh. Our brilliant Education team of Rainbow, Sailing, Suki, Linda and Jacky had thought up a clever idea of showing the audience what a rescued bear needs the most. Their brightly painted props included vegetables, medicine, fruity shakes and bear food – and even a needle and syringe which Moonie spent minutes avoiding, before presenting his chubby bottom for that essential antibiotic and painkiller! 

The audience loved it – and a perfect day with a perfect message was thoroughly enjoyed by all. With the final question: “Will you help us to end bear farming?” seeing an explosive and positive “YES!” – we were one more step closer to our goal. 

Our heartfelt thanks to our friends at the Shanghai Standard Chartered Bank - especially General Manager retail Banking Products, Amy Liu, and her wonderful team; Sabrina, Roger, Bear and Jessica! The Standard Chartered Bank has many projects of social awareness across the world and we are proud to be working with them on something that has such an impact on the individual and the species as a whole. 

As I said to the audience, if we can end just one wrong, just one example of torture in our lives, then we are giving children everywhere the inspiration that they can do more. As Jane Goodall says, there is always reason for hope – and one day, with children like these leading the change, we might heal this sick and suffocating world.

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