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The Year of You!

You made all the difference in 2015 – with you we are ready for the challenges and successes in 2016.

If you read our Christmas miracle story of Tuffy, I'm betting you cried.

We did too when we met this burned and battered puppy, and struggled to comprehend how anyone could have punished him so cruelly for the crime of being innocent, young and playful. How could they even consider that pouring boiling hot water over his body, and throwing him out of a window four storeys high, was an appropriate punishment for chewing a mobile phone?

Tuffy's burns Perhaps we must put anger aside and simply focus on the good that came out of this story – the kind-hearted women who rescued him, and the total dedication of our tireless vet team who worked around the clock, determined to help him survive.

Thanks to you, and your faith and support, this work goes on – ensuring victories however small, and helping little Tuffy to find his bark and find his way home. Today, Tuffy is living with his Chinese family, is loved more than words can say, enjoys romps in the park like a "normal" dog, and has a wardrobe of snug warm coats that are the envy of his friends.

Tuffy playing outsideBecause of you, we have been able to celebrate so many victories every month of this year. These acts of kindness towards our very best friends that show how much so many people in Asia are determined to prevail over cruelty and abuse.   

We started calling 2015 the Year of You. It was the year supporters stood with us in greater numbers than ever before and said they wouldn't tolerate cruelty. Animal lovers have always had to take on responsibility where the care of animals is concerned.

Because to remove animals from pain – usually means taking them from those who are cruel. It means taking responsibility. That's what you do when you stand with us to rescue the bears and help our cat and dogs teams in China. Animal lovers are people who believe in action.

And we never, ever take your help and support for granted – how could we, when so much progress is being made?

This year in Vietnam has seen a long fought battle for caged and suffering bears well and truly won. As I write, the province of Quang Ninh is bear farm free, and the dens in our bear houses are full. Full of rescued victims who, until a short time ago were looking out at the world from cage bars, with terrified eyes and hearts. For years, the approach of humans meant only one thing – a painful jab of illegal drugs, before their bile was extracted via a spinal needle and pump, as they lay semi-conscious and in pain.

q1Quang Yen at rescue...

QuanYen...and after, at our Vietnam sanctuary

 Because of you, those days are far behind. Bears like beautiful, partly hairless Kay, are now lying on a soft bed of straw, looking with interest and bright anticipation as humans approach. They have quickly learned that our team has nothing to offer but love, and an endless supply of fresh and tasty food. Each meal is different, every spoonful of honey, every treat of icepops or sugar cane – more than they can ever believe – all happily grasped between grateful paws.

 As Quang Ninh and Animals Asia celebrate the end – no cages, no bile, and no bears shivering miserably in fear and pain, you are reading about victories such as this because YOU have joined and supported the incredible work and progress being made. From 4,000 bears at its height, Vietnam now sees around 1,200 bears remaining on farms. And our team reinforces our promise to you, that we are never giving up until the cruelty ends.

qnVietnam government officials who were instrumental in ending bear bile farming in Quang Nihn Province.

Because make no mistake – there is still much to be done and we will need all your support to complete this work.

The year 2016 is already promising to be just as challenging as these past 12 months –and we are looking forward to bringing you more hard fought progress as you stay on this journey with the entire Animals Asia team.

In China, we have seen a massive step forward. Voted the country's most influential international NGO by followers of Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter), we are proud to see the Chinese public increasingly refusing bear bile, and promoting the consumption of herbs and synthetics instead. The country's largest producer of bear bile, consuming over 50 per cent of production from the farms, is working with the Chinese government to promote a synthetic substitute to the bile of farmed bears. This product has already been produced, and looks set to be in mass production within the next couple of years.

This year has been particularly hard in terms of helping bears still suffering on the farms, but our tenacious team holds strong. With an entire bear farm in Nanning shut down, the work of actually rescuing all of the bears has been constantly delayed, but we hope to have all the remaining 123 bears home safely with us in Chengdu in the following few months.Jie Jie and Smudge at NanningJie Jie and Smudge at Nanning

In the meantime, our team has performed a staggering 73 health checks on the bears in Nanning, who are now feeling – and looking – so much happier with their pain and trauma removed. Through it all, YOU helped us to raise the funds so desperately needed for these surgeries and procedures, and sent such wonderful messages of support and inspiration too.Enrichment at Nanning The bears at Nanning now have toys, pools and the best of medical care to enrich their lives

This simple letter of thanks could go into a multi-page document if we listed all the areas where YOU have helped to drive our success. Tens of thousands of you wrote appeals to shut down the annual Yulin dog eating festival in China, more thousands supported the end of the hideous "pig chopping festival" that finally saw the Prime Minister himself intervening and calling for such negative and old fashioned festivals to end. Your support steers and drives us, as we continue heartbreaking investigations, practical lobbying, and work to the day when dogs and cats are our friends, not food, when bear farming is done, and when cruel wild animal performances will end.

Think about what would have happened without YOU. Bears still in cages. Animals still in pain. Cruel traditions unchallenged and worse cruelty persisting without anyone ever knowing it was taking place.

You've helped us build sanctuaries, rescue bears and feed them to give them the good life they deserve. YOU shone a spotlight on cruelty, and with us, you questioned why cruelty need exist at all.

It doesn't.

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Our gratitude and thanks for staying with Animals Asia, helping us to celebrate each new victory that touches and helps the lives of individuals everywhere. As little Tuffy heals and his character emerges as big as China, as Kay's fur and confidence grows, and as all the bears this Christmas in China and Vietnam enjoyed their annual mince pies and gifts lovingly laid out by our staff.......we never forget that you made all this progress possible.

happy presentThank you again for this season where so much good will is treasured and kindness passed on. For if it weren't for you behind us, where would the animals be?

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Wishing you all the happiest New Year's Eve, and so looking forward to seeing you again in 2016.

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