They were so utterly lovely to host in Chengdu — Richard Symonds, and Suzie Marsh and her husband Doug, who had flown over from the UK to meet the bears and gather as many pictures of our gorgeous ambassadors as possible.
Bearmania has well and truly arrived in the UK, and, according to Gill and Nicky in our office there, it seems that everyone in the town of Congleton has taken the bears to their hearts. Long famous for its historical link with bears, the town just recently organised the most amazing event and proudly showed off 75 five-feet tall fibreglass bears decorated by the towns schools, businesses and services. They even included a Bear Mayor!
What a fabulous event just recently in Chengdu after Suki and our Cat and Dog Welfare team pulled out all the stops and launched our brand new event — “Bikers love animals”.
Tuan, our Vietnam Director, sent the most wonderful update recently of a visit by a group of Buddhist monks to our rescue centre in Tam Dao. It brought me back to April 2010 when Buddhist monks visited our centre in Chengdu, China and blessed our newly rescued bears and sanctuary, leaving a veil of calm and tranquility throughout. Tuan’s words below are particularly touching, showing a profound example of the growing number of people who will not tolerate the ugly truth of bear farming in Asia today.
It’s been a long time coming, but well worth the wait. An impressive and explosive new report by TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network) reveals a trade out of control with the message: “Illegal bear bile trade rampant in Asia”.
I miss that little dog so much — but love that he’s loved so much by Judy and family in the UK. Judy sent me a hilarious update about our little princeling, Tremor, who has been on a merry-go-round of happiness since starting his new life abroad. Tremor was rescued from a trembling mountain in the middle of an aftershock that followed the devastating Sichuan earthquake of May 2008.
Following the announcement of our new Ambassador in Switzerland, Katharina Buttiker, I thought it was high time I started featuring our other ambassadors and representatives across the world. And here, very proudly, now announcing one of our Hong Kong board members (and ex-Hong Kong rugby star!) Joe Hancock, who — along with his new wife Angela — surpassed himself recently by running a marathon of over 40 staggering kilometres! Joe and Angela have been longtime supporters of Animals Asia and generous benefactors to the bears. They even sponsor their own bear, Angus, in Vietnam.
With bulging eyes homing in on his quarry, and wobbly legs tottering over in pursuit, this scrap of a bear finally grasped the trophy in his tiny claws and bit down. One leaf, one small green leaf which, for that tiny little cub, provided a spark of comfort and perhaps a fleeting memory of the forest he used to know.
Since Sun Li’s event, life has been chaotic but fun — and this past week saw my family and I joining our German Director, Christa Filipowicz, our China External Affairs Director, Toby Zhang, and eminent doctor of Chinese medicine Professor Gao in Zurich for some wonderful events there.
While Gill and our UK team were battling the wilds of Dartmoor in the UK, I was in Beijing with Lucky, Sailing, Jacky, Toby and Fan Dang, celebrating an incredible event for the bears — starring Chinese celebrity and superstar, Sun Li.
Jill heads Animals Asia’s team of over 300 enthusiastic staff. She divides her time between mainland China, Vietnam and Hong Kong, and travels frequently…READ MORE
Jill Robinson MBE
Jill heads Animals Asia’s team of over 300 enthusiastic staff. She divides her time between mainland China, Vietnam and Hong Kong, and travels frequently around the world to give presentations at conferences and speak at fundraising events.
A hands-on leader, Jill is involved in all major decision-making. She works with the vet and bear teams during rescues and health checks and advises closely on construction projects. She visits dog and cat markets and zoos and safari parks throughout China to document the abuse of animals and over the years has made countless visits to hospitals and homes for the elderly with her own and Animals Asia’s animal-therapy dogs.
She writes her own blog, her own speeches and presentations, is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines and a frequent guest on radio and TV shows. She has also co-written a children’s book about moon bears and co-written a number of scientific papers with Animals Asia’s vet teams.
Born in the UK, Jill arrived in Hong Kong in 1985 and spent 12 years working in Asia as a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Repeatedly faced with scenes of widespread animal cruelty, she decided to introduce the concept of “animal welfare through people welfare” and founded Dr Dog in Hong Kong in 1991 – the first animal-therapy programme in Asia.
Jill founded Animals Asia in 1998 – five years after an encounter with a caged bear on a farm in southern China changed her life forever. Learning that bear bile could be replaced by herbs, she vowed to put an end to bear bile farming. Since then, Animals Asia has rescued over 530 bears in China and Vietnam.
In 2010, both Animals Asia’s China and Vietnam rescue centres were awarded the Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence and in 2014 they were accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries – the only sanctuaries in China and Vietnam to have received this honour.
Jill is a Council Member of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) Herbal Committee and her outstanding contribution to animal welfare has been recognised with a number of awards. In 1995, she won the “Reader’s Digest” Hero for Today award. In 1998, she was made an MBE by Queen Elizabeth of England. In 2008, she was named “Outstanding Earth Champion” in Hong Kong and was appointed World Animal Day Ambassador for Asia. In 2010, she was one of 12 recognised foreigners given the “You Bring Charm to China” award.
Jill received an honorary doctorate in veterinary science from the University of Zurich, Switzerland in 2012, and an honorary law degree from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China in 2014.
She shares her home in Hong Kong with her family of rescued dogs, cats and a tortoise.