The recent story about Tremor joining Judy and family in the UK missed out another very lucky dog — Matilda. Now, as her “mum”, Heather, is sadly leaving us to return to the UK, it seems fitting to mention them both and to say a fond farewell to our Veterinary Director Heather, who for the past three and a half years, has cared for our bears with love and compassion.
Following the sad blogs on Vietnam over the past few days, it’s such a delight to let you know some good news coming out of Hanoi this week. Just recently our brilliant Vietnam team received clearance from the Hanoi government to transfer four bears to our sanctuary in Tam Dao.
As Morgan in our US office said when she sent me this lovely letter, along with a donation, “This is just too cute not to share.” It was sent in by Raoul Di Blasi of Kingston, Pennsylvania in reply to our gorgeous Woodley's Letter to Santa.
Prior to the seminar on bear farming at the European Parliament in Brussels, Dave, Toby, our Chinese Government friends and I met with Neil Parish MP at the Houses of Parliament in London.
The end of Virginia’s journey in Vietnam saw her spending the day with our vet team as Kirsty and Caroline spent hours in the surgery removing both upper canines, which were badly broken, exposing the pulp, from a bear called Halong. Virginia was absolutely mesmerised with the procedure and gently held Halong’s paw as Caroline monitored the anaesthetic, and Kirsty concentrated on removing his poor damaged teeth.
Early the next morning Virginia, Tuan, Chinh, The and I headed off to the bear farms of Phung Thoung Village near Hanoi. The first farm saw us being politely invited to drink tea by the owner, Ms Loc, before she showed us the bears. Kind as the offer was, it was of course the last thing we wanted to do and the small talk that ensued could hardly disguise the nervousness we felt in anticipation of soon meeting the caged bears.
"The Times" calls it "nasty, naughty fun" and indeed I know that this year's UK pantomime presentation of Roald Dahl's "George's Marvellous Medicine" on Monday 20th December is going to be a brilliant fun-filled night.
Billed as fizztickling fun and wizzpopping magic, the panto sees our incredibly generous friends at the Birmingham Stage Company putting on another Christmas panto for Animals Asia, where all proceeds will go to our beautiful bears in China and Vietnam.
Support within the European Parliament for an end to bear farming in Asia continues to grow with over 50 MEPs, representing 13 European countries, supporting a European Parliament seminar: “Bear farming, animal cruelty and the development of animal protection in China”.
It was early November and there she was sitting in the Hong Kong departure lounge by the gate for Hanoi. Virginia McKenna had just flown in overnight from London but looked fresh as a daisy and was raring to go. We were leaving for Vietnam where we were to meet up with Tuan our Vietnam Director and team, and join freelance journalist Simon Parry who was doing a story about the farmed bears.
How much I'll miss him – but how thrilled that he’s gone to his forever home in the UK. I am of course talking about our beautiful Tremor – a dog we rescued in May 2008 during the horrible, devastating earthquake of Chengdu. A dog who has been such a big part of the lives of all of our staff in China, and particularly Caroline, our vet nurse, and myself, who shared (and adored) him on site.
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.