The game was on to see who could outdo who – and in a few hours we had giant snowmen and reindeer heads made out of watermelons, beautiful extra large marshmallow snowmen, and a life sized sleigh (thank you our brilliant Horticulture Team for that).


Laying out the gifts the next day for breakfast, on a chilly overcast day, saw even more creativity, as the best positions were chosen by our red cheeked elves and Santas – all watched from inside the dens by our hungry and increasingly impatient bears.

As the bell rang and the doors finally opened, out the bears came.

Pixie was the self-claimed gingerbread queen, as she sniffed out the sweet smelling biscuits and even wrecked a pine tree to snaffle more than her fair share.


Holly hauled herself on to a platform, which almost buckled under her divine, "voluptuous" weight. Her mission and focus was on a squadron of marshmallow soldiers made by Rocky, but saw her nose turning up at them all, except for their dried hawthorn apple hats! Her best moment was to come as she claimed her first Christmas box – carefully unwrapping it in slow motion as if she never wanted the magic to end.


Three legged Jingle who had recently had surgery on her "stump" and was recovering well, picked her way around the enclosure, ignoring the candy canes, the marshmallows and the mince tarts, but seemingly hell-bent on destroying the "Merry Christmas" banner strung between two trees. 


Our Christmas message, edited by Jingle, quickly became MERRY CHRITMAS for the rest of the day :-)

And the sleigh just sat there...

As she continued exploring, Jingle decided that she quite liked gingerbread men, and hoovered up three in short succession, before wandering around with a candy cane sticking out of her mouth. 


Ryan (our Bear and Vet Team Director ) was heard to feel sorry for the hapless ginger biscuits – and swore he heard them cry out for Shrek while shrieking "Do you know the muffin man?", before they got decapitated by the bears. 


Not content with finishing all the remaining biscuits, Pixi then went for as many mince pies as she could find – using her overturned paw (or "paw table" as Ryan calls it), relishing all the sweet stuff inside the pies.

And the sleigh just sat there...

Wancai couldn't make up his mind – first grabbing a huge and juicy pear, but then catching sight of a Christmas box and wanting that too. Before the morning was out this greedy boy had snaffled most of the boxes for himself, diving his head into each one, with a loud crunching sound of peanuts amplified from within. Not to be outdone, Pixie was now plunging her whole head inside an overripe watermelon, with pips and juice dribbling down her chin.


Wancai's growing love for mince pies was also obvious – after curiously sniffing one first, nibbling gently around the edges, and then realising that the inside was definitely yum.

And the sleigh just sat there...

But wait – suddenly Pixie approached the sleigh and we all held our breath... and then let it out again with a disappointed sigh as she just sniffed it, turned her back, and walked away!

After many such moments with various other bears, Jingle claimed the sleigh. She picked it up and adjusted it with her one good front leg, before looking into the distance with her passenger snowman, for all the world as if imagining Rudolph and friends were flying up front. 


That afternoon it was over to House 6 to see Shamrock, Jonah, Kroenchen, Longo and the divinely handsome Peter Bear!

Peter Bear was first out, closely followed by Shamrock and Jonah – while Kroenchen and Longo were enjoying a lie in. Peter seemed more interested in his audience on the roof of the bear house and spent several minutes looking up at the elves and Santas smiling down into the enclosure, before starting to explore. This bear with the sweetest character, named after our UK Ambassador Peter Egan, saw tears in our eyes as he walked curiously over to his first ever marshmallow snowman and gently pursed his lips to pick it up and savour the treat.

Sadly, his gentle character wasn't to last as he glanced over and suddenly saw Jonah walking triumphantly back to his den with an enormous Christmas box. Like a spoilt child, and with speed belying his normal gangly walk, Peter wasted no time at all in hurtling over and trying to grab the box from Jonah's mouth. This obviously didn't impress Jonah at all and, with a few loud grumbles, and neither letting go, they decided to escort the box into the den together, and continue their spat inside!

Having enjoyed his treat in the den, Jonah then made his way outside again, and over to a huge watermelon "snowman head"; grabbing the carrot nose, and seeing the whole head splattering onto the ground.


Sly Shamrock was ignoring all the fuss around her and continued quietly opening all of the boxes, clearly having a wonderful time.


By the end of the afternoon, poor Peter had been more intent on gorging on giant brightly coloured ice blocks but, by the time he'd polished off two and realised that absolutely nothing else was left except a third iceblock, he walked past it and made his way back into the den in the hope of finding something nice there. 

True to form, greedy Wancai ate and ate and ate, finishing off everything he could see, before climbing one of his beloved trees and enjoying the view from several metres high.


Ryan's observation that, "this just made my everything" absolutely spoke for us all. A wonderful day of smiles and spoiling for bears and people alike, before we headed off for our Christmas party with mulled wine and more presents, with not a marshmallow in sight.

You can see more great photos here.


As we celebrate the happiness of another year, we launch into 2020 with renewed passion and vigour, with a call to action firmly embedded in our hearts. Our happy bears and our animal successes depend on you, our friends and supporters across the world, championing the "kindness in action" of all in the team. While chaos and violence rages almost everywhere we look, Animals Asia believes that people yearn for a new and peaceful tomorrow – and we celebrate that all of our staff in the field, and in our offices around the globe, are driven to success through actions that are kind.

Your support is vital – ensuring that we don't just talk about ending the cruelty, but put words into action and create an increasingly kinder world for animals to enjoy. Whether our programme is rescuing bears, or cat and dog welfare or captive animal welfare, fear is replaced with fun, pain is replaced with peace, and suffering is replaced with sanctuary. Through your trust and your confidence in our work and our goals, both wild and companion animals are finally encouraged to express their own characters, are loved, respected and celebrated, and are asked the same "questions" every day, in our unwavering quest for how we can do it all better.

Next year will see us working side by side with the central and local government and with the farmers themselves, delivering on our promise to end bear bile farming in Vietnam. Our formal agreement with the authorities is the only one of its kind, endorsing our first steps in the country in 1999 and now 20 years later finally achieving the mighty goal for which we were founded.

Our gratitude to you all for staying with us. Together, through kindness in action, the promise made to Hong, the first caged bear who began it all in 1993, is finally coming true.

Bear hugs, blessings and love to you all for joy and peace during this most magical festive season, and for the happiest, healthiest and kindest New Year. Jillx

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