Some time back in the space of a week, two beautiful poems arrived by email from the UK. The first by Lorraine Thomas who is coordinator of our Cheshire & Wirral Support Group and the second by Richard Bonfield, Poet in Residence for Born Free whose Founder Virginia McKenna is of course our UK Patron.
After all the excitement of the Roadshow, reality awaited on return to Hong Kong in terms of the highs and lows of caring for over 230 bears in China and Vietnam. Two calls in quick succession from a clearly devastated vet Jen, in Chengdu, saw us sharing tears for two of our beautiful bears, so much loved............ and now gone.
The Roadshow this year was all about returning to see old friends and meeting new supporters and couldn't have been more warm and embracing throughout.
I’m really looking forward to starting our Roadshow in Australia later this week, seeing old friends, meeting new supporters and catching everyone up with the news. Despite my excitement, there has been one small downside to the explosion of good news – knowing that I was going back to let everyone know that we still hadn’t secured the release of any of the 24 bears held illegally on farms in Vietnam.
A piece of good news coming out of Guangdong recently shows that trends are changing in China regarding the consumption of dogs. Thanks in no small part to our fabulous Dr Dog and Professor Paws teams in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, a new generation is recognising dogs (and cats) as friends, not food. See the story here.
Anyone who has ever met Rupert has a favourite story about him to share – and they came in thick and fast throughout last night and today, after an email went out to let our team know that it was now time for us all to say goodbye. Such is the love for a bear that soaked it all in, and adored being adored for the past 10 years.
Rainbow has also joined us in the truly awful dog and cat markets, bravely capturing the all-important evidence we need to expose this dreadful industry, and keeping at bay traders who become progressively more aggressive as they realise why we are there. The Christmas before last, he led his team along a famous street of dog restaurants with our Dr Dogs wearing signs around their necks proudly announcing: "We are your friends. Don’t eat us” and convincing potential customers of the restaurants to sign a pledge promising never to eat dog meat again.
This was a message I recently sent to guests who’d been on site and watched Ping Guo (meaning "Apple") having her gall bladder removed on the surgery table during the morning. Twelve hours later she was still there. I hope the bear farming industry is proud. This poor bear will also have to return to the surgery soon to have shattered canine teeth removed.
Their eyes bulged with fear as the door of the four-wheel drive opened to expose our new family to the world. Tiny little scraps of moon bears, some 4-5kgs in weight and estimated to be just three-to-four months old.
Nearly five months after her rescue in Vietnam, Nicole's vast bottom seems to take centre stage on the operating table this week. Lying here having a dental from vet Kirsty and vet nurse Caroline, it seems hard to believe that she's already lost a whopping great 30 kilograms since arriving with us on January 21st.
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.