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Virginia McKenna speaks out on bear farming

My dear friend and mentor – and our UK Patron and Founder of Born Free – Virginia McKenna, has sent an inspiring message to the world about bear farming which I wanted to share. I will never forget our trip together to the hell holes of Vietnam last year where we saw unimaginable suffering to so many farmed bears.

Now Virginia has sent a message which will lift an exhausted team of dedicated people striving to end this despicable trade in China. This is to every single donor, volunteer and staff member (past and present) across the globe – and to everyone in China and worldwide raising their voices to a deafening crescendo – now is the time for bear farming to end.

In Virginia's words:

The stark truth about bear “farming” in China has touched the hearts of an unprecedented number of Chinese people. Thanks, perhaps, to the increased press exposure in China of the terrible truth about bear bile extraction.

As a European, my opinion could possibly be ignored by those responsible for this terrible trade and its place in traditional Chinese medicine [TCM] but not, surely, the views of the Chinese people themselves.

Although an “outsider”, I believe I represent countless people around the world who are disgusted and deeply shocked by the terrible and cruel treatment of the thousands of bears who are victims of the TCM market. Imprisoned in cages for years on end, and subjected to the painful and invasive extraction of the bile (often from open and infected wounds).

I feel I am justified in speaking out as I have personally visited some of the “farms” in Vietnam. I have seen the cages, the grotesque suffering of the bears, witnessed the nightmare lives they endure. I have also seen the indifference of the “farm” owners. I shall never forget any of it. It is the stuff of nightmares.

I have also visited the Animals Asia Rescue Centres in Vietnam and in China. The tireless and courageous work of Jill Robinson and her team, is the beacon of light that shines out and brings hope to those beautiful moon bears. Those lucky enough to be saved and given the chance of a new life, arrive with manifold and terrible physical problems. And one would think that they would harbour deep and long-lasting grudges against all humans because of their previous treatment. But animals understand so much more than we ever give them credit for. I am sure, beyond all doubt, that the rescued bears I saw knew that they were safe and loved.

I am very honoured to be the Animals Asia UK Patron and I add my voice to all the others who call for the end of the bear bile trade and the unspeakable suffering it causes. Let humans also be humane.

Virginia McKenna OBE
Founder Trustee The Born Free Foundation
UK Patron Animals Asia Foundation

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