Pinch me. Because surely I must be dreaming. This morning's event in the centre of downtown Chengdu will go down in the Animals Asia history as another turning point in our campaign to end bear farming in China.
The internet keeps us in touch with the world of the present and that of the past. Just recently, Mary Alice in the UK sent me the link to a website called Earth Protect, that brought back the memories of smiles and tears for the life of Andrew and so many bears we have loved and lost.
Their eyes shone, their mouths grinned and their cheeks glowed pink with shyness as they walked up on to the stage to collect their prizes. Chosen out of 15,000 children across China, these were the 22 talented prizewinners who had run with the theme "Saving the Moon Bears" and rose magnificently to the challenge.
A quick, but very heartfelt thank you, to all of you who've already signed up to send the bears a bunch of browse for Valentine's Day. They will absolutely love this bear version of a dozen red roses!
Just back from Vietnam where, as ever, I've been so overwhelmingly impressed with the sheer tenacity and professionalism of our entire team.
Our Chengdu sanctuary has seen an exciting new structural addition this week – our Special-Care Area for bears who require some extra help and care as they struggle with the physical legacy of their previous lives on the farm.
Fast on the heels of our conference in Beijing, which saw the attendance of over 250 traditional Chinese medicine doctors, scholars, government officials and policy-makers advocating the alternatives to endangered species, we then saw another exciting event in China – this time in Tianjin, near Beijing (where our beautiful brown bears, Caesar and Emma, were rescued with the help of the local forestry department).
What do you do with the hamper itself if you're lucky enough to get a basket full of goodies on Christmas Day? Put it in the loft, offer it to niece Nicole for her toys, or............. fill it with food suiting a bear's taste and give it to the residents of our sanctuary in Chengdu?
Hot on the heels of our UK trekkers to Vietnam, came our friends from Oz! Their trip involved several hours on site at our sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park before beginning the trek that would see them heading out of their comfort zone and experiencing the “real” Vietnam.
Over 250 members of the TCM community in China and across the world joined together in Beijing in the last weekend of November for the “International Symposium for the Conservation of Endangered Species and Traditional Chinese Medicine”. The symposium was sponsored by the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and Animals Asia Foundation, together with the generous help of the Maria Norbury Foundation and Hauser Bears.
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.