A visit from our friends in France

It's been so wonderful to host Animals Asia's French support group on site with the bears in Chengdu.

Representing the group were Michèle Jung (President), Geneviève Hamelin (Secretary, Webmaster and author of "Sur les pas des ours"), Philippe (Geneviève's husband) and Isabelle, Laura and Frédéric (support group members). 

The amazing French support group was created in October 2011 and today has 41 members across the country, with two main areas - one in the south where Michèle is from, and in the West where Geneviève lives. From left, here's Geneviève, me and Michèle.

Throughout these past two years, the group has relentlessly worked with the media, companies and individuals and has so far sent a very impressive total of 25,000 euros to help the bears. One of their main sponsors, Clic Animaux, continues to be a strong supporter, with 40,000 visitors to their website each day learning about how to end bear bile farming.

Since it was founded, the group has held over 10 events in France to raise the profile of the bears and has even put in place a "communication hub" to increase visibility through the media. Attending major national events, such as Vegan Day in Paris this coming October, they have great plans for next year too and I'm looking forward very much to joining them in Paris at Vegan Day 2014.

Outside of public lobbying for the bears, Michèle, Geneviève and our French support group keenly research the websites that advertise or promote bear bile and have written to traditional Chinese medicine universities, and to the doctors and pharmacies too, informing them of the suffering of bile bears, and the fact that the international trade of bile is illegal under the CITES convention.

Their trip to Chengdu just a few weeks ago was the highlight for many of us who had eagerly waited to meet them, and we had a wonderful few hours introducing them all to the bears. The surgery room had a particularly exciting atmosphere as the group poured in to help with Kroenchen's health check and hear all about the story of her years of suffering on the farm. 

Back outside, and walking around the bear enclosures in the sun, it was a thrilling experience to see Jasper ambling straight over to the fenceline to say hello and sit for a close-up photo with his admiring fans.

Michèle, Geneviève and all our friends in France, our heartfelt thanks for all you do to keep the story of the bears circulating so widely and for the funds you so tirelessly raise that allows the campaign to progress towards the goal of bringing bear farming to an end. Looking forward to seeing you again soon and thank you again for keeping the bears in your hearts.

Please see here for Animals Asia France's support group website and Facebook pages.

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