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Alibaba shows the world it cares

Tenacity, perseverance and passion pays off again – following the endeavours of two of our brilliant Hong Kong staff who contacted Alibaba Limited after seeing dog and cat meat and fur for sale on their internet site, Alibaba.com – the world’s biggest e-commerce trading portal.

Carney first brought it to our attention and promptly began writing to Alibaba, which reasonably and thankfully took her concerns seriously and promised to investigate. It all escalated from there and, following meetings between Carney, Angela, and Linda from Alibaba in Hong Kong, suddenly everything snowballed and there they were generously promising not only to remove everything related to the cruel dog and cat meat and fur industry, but pledging to take bear bile products off their site too.

As well as removing these listing from their Alibaba site, they also offered to delete them from their hugely popular Chinese-language sister site, Taobao.com.

In mid-May, Rainbow and I headed over to Shenzhen for Alibaba’s AGM, where hundreds of shareholders and media were in the audience to hear their charismatic founder Jack Ma giving an overview of their performance and to hear their Chief Executive Officer David Wei (pictured here with Rainbow and me) explaining the reasons why they had joined with Animals Asia under their new corporate and social awareness initiative.

David gave a moving summary, saying that Alibaba’s conscience was first touched by information on sharks’ fin which had reached them last year. He said that although there was a grey area on legality of many species of sharks being traded, in fact, once they learned how the sharks were treated and fins obtained, they reasoned that the issue went far beyond a question of legality. 


And so it was with the bears..... David told the audience that Alibaba had a moral duty to help save the bears in a situation that mirrored the sharks – where the diversity of the oceans is being lost and, so too, are the bears disappearing, as they are being continuously "milked" away. David felt passionately that while his son may see moon bears in the wild, his grandson may only see them in pictures and on film – and his duty as a parent was to prevent this from happening.

Previous to David’s speech, I had been apprehensive about introducing their initiative for dogs and cats too. After all, here we were in Shenzhen, southern China, where dogs and cats were eaten by the thousand every week and the audience surely must have people there who would enjoy a dog dinner every now and then. But still, it had to be said and, thanking David I explained to the audience that Alibaba's decision had gone beyond banning bear bile.

By also deciding to ban dog and cat meat and fur, they had shown compassion in recognition that companion animals had proved their love and loyalty to humankind the world over and deserved so much more than to be treated as commodities.

Dogs in particular were heroes in China after working side by side with the rescue services following the earthquake in Sichuan and during the Olympic Games where they were employed to protect against terrorist attacks. Adding that we were truly grateful to Alibaba on behalf of millions of people in China and across the world, I waited for Rainbow to finish translating. Suddenly, the room broke into applause and Rainbow and I looked at each other with big grins, knowing that another small step for animal welfare in China had just been taken.

David finished by joking that bears are considered unlucky in the financial markets, adding “but we don’t think they are. For every bear that’s rescued from a farm, a negative is turned into a positive”. And, with that, he kindly accepted a picture of “Alibaba” one of our recently rescued bears, named in honour of a company that cares.

And that is where I'll leave this blog – on a hugely positive note, and with thanks and gratitude not only to Alibaba, but to Carney (top) and Angela, seen here on their last visit to Chengdu.

Please see our press release for more.

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