Meanwhile in Vietnam, our gorgeous juveniles Olly, Mausi and Mara - first rescued as cubs in 2007 - are now cozying up with the big boys and girls and experiencing life as "proper" adult bears! Their pictures, now on the website, are utterly beautiful and show, once again, how these truly remarkable animals can put trauma and pain behind and enjoy their new lives.
During recent Roadshow presentations in Australia and New Zealand. I showed two of Bear Manager Charlie's pics, which demonstrate Banjo's mischievousness and superior skills! Taking the lead perhaps in tree-party destruction, now that beautiful Somerset has said goodbye?
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.