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Adieu to Rainbow

Many of you will be familiar with our very own Rainbow Zhu Ke on site in Chengdu. Rainbow began as our translator and quickly rose through the ranks of Animals Asia to where he is today as our China PR and Education Manager. Rainbow has so many skills under his belt that it’s difficult to know where to start – a photographer extraordinaire whose pictures grace this year’s moon bear calendar, our Freedom Moon book, and in our PR and advertising campaigns around the world.

During the past couple of years, Rainbow has also ably led education campaigns in China for the benefit of dogs, cats, bears and a whole host of other species – including challenging the traders in the hideously cruel live-animal markets and the animal trainers in safari parks and zoos.

My favourite Rainbow story was when he, Dave (our Animal Welfare Director), Irene (our China Dr Dog Manager) and I were investigating various animal facilities in the south of China and watched some of the sickening performances and methods of training that the animals were forced to endure. On one memorable afternoon, we were watching a trainer in an elephant ring. He was using an ankush, a cruel instrument of torture that has a metal pin at the end, which the audience cannot see. As the trainer stabbed the two pitiful elephants time and time again in the face and behind the ears, we could see them flinching in pain as they tried their hardest to stand on their heads, walk on their hind and front legs and generally demean themselves in various unnatural contortions for the “pleasure” of the audience.

At the end of the show, Rainbow could stand it no more and, as I filmed, he strode into the ring and demanded that the trainer show him his “magic stick”. Time and time again, Rainbow challenged him as to why he was being so cruel, with the trainer who had thrown away his ankush denying that he was using anything negative on the elephants at all.

Rainbow has also joined us in the truly awful dog and cat markets, bravely capturing the all-important evidence we need to expose this dreadful industry, and keeping at bay traders who become progressively more aggressive as they realise why we are there. The Christmas before last, he led his team along a famous street of dog restaurants with our Dr Dogs wearing signs around their necks proudly announcing: "We are your friends. Don’t eat us” and convincing potential customers of the restaurants to sign a pledge promising never to eat dog meat again.

My final story of Rainbow is that in all the six years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him in a bad mood – he is consistently a sunny member of staff on site – and we will now miss him more than he can ever know as he leaves us this week.

Rainbow has the opportunity of traveling to the USA for two years to take up a non-profit MBA course in Hawaii and he and his wife Hong Chuan will be living a new life there as he learns vital skills for coming back to China and taking animal welfare and rights to the next level. With much relief, I’m happy to report that Rainbow will give us first option on returning to the Animals Asia family on completion of his course, and so it is with a mixture of smiles and sadness that we bid you adieu Rainbow, wish you and Hong Chuan a happy and successful time in the USA, and thank you for the most memorable times of progress during your time with us all.

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