At 3am on Wednesday, Heather our Senior Vet and Tina our translator came knocking at my door accompanied by two gowned and masked officials from China's health bureau.
Our fundraising roadshows are always super busy, but the buzz of meeting our wonderful support groups, old and new friends, and raising much-needed funds for the dogs, cats and bears of Asia makes them 100 per cent fun and worthwhile.
There are no words to express our sense of loss as once again I have to tell you of the death of one of our beautiful bears. Especially a bear like Haribo, whose determination to survive captured the hearts of all who had the privilege to know him.
With a heavy heart I'm afraid that the weekend has brought no positive news following the cruel slaughter of dogs in Shaanxi Province last week. Our good friend, Chinese animal welfarist Jianghong and her team have just returned from a traumatic trip to Hangzhong city and Yangxian. They saw no dogs alive in the streets of Yanxian - just the broken carcasses of innocent victims, and officials washing their hands of blood, and responsibility, for such a brutal knee jerk reaction to rabies.
Longtime supporters Kathy and Larry Schiller from Los Angeles have been superbly generous to the bears – and have surpassed themselves in their latest philanthropic gesture by selling one of their finest Chinese works of art to benefit our work. The auction at Christies in Hong Kong on Saturday 29th May saw the finest example from Zeng Fanzhi’s notorious “Mask” series going under the hammer for a princely sum, and Animals Asia receiving a phenomenal US$100,000 from the proceeds of the sale as a result.
The sight of those wretched dogs trying to crawl away from the people bludgeoning them over the head was beyond words. More heartbreaking still was the scene where a dog was surrounded by men with poles and began to wag his tail in welcome - before screaming in agony as the poles and rods came down upon his body. Howling in terror, he tried to raise himself on already broken limbs as the blows came thick and fast and sent him crashing once more to the ground. Blood gathered in pools around his head before he was picked up by one of his back legs and dragged away. The pile of dead dogs grew - and people in the video laughed – satisfied with a job which had so cruelly stilled the beating hearts of our best friends.
9.17am, Tuesday 26 May: No less than three vets are concentrating on Assisi’s surgery – including our friend Dr John Wu from Guangzhou (wearing purple), just coincidentally on site to see our bears, but happy to scrub in.
In something almost impossible to describe, all of us at the Chengdu bear sanctuary have just been witness to an incredible art form dating back 3,000 years.
It was hard not to cry meeting Deng Yu Rui for the first time. His father had died in the earthquake last May, and his mother had tragically lost three of her limbs, but Deng's face beamed as he met his new four-legged best friends.
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.