The rain poured down, the guests flowed in, and our hearts soared as our beautiful Vietnam bears experienced the simple joy of walking on grass for the first time.
A quick blog today, but one with grateful thanks to another of our unsung heroes on staff. Our Chef Li Damu and his team are always there when the new bears arrive – working in the kitchen late into the night to ensure the rescue team have nourishing hot food at the end of a long and stressful day.
In between goo-gooing at the cubs, I took some time to walk around our new double bear house, which will be the centrepiece of our forthcoming official Phase 2 Opening in Vietnam this month.
I love going to our sanctuary in Vietnam. These days I spend much of my time at our China sanctuary, which is well-established, mature and heaving with happy, bouncing bears – but Vietnam is glorious too.
Remember Richter, the terrified retriever we found crouching and abandoned in a filthy cage in a pet shop just days after the Sichuan earthquake last May?
Harriet Tung is in the news again -- and thanks to Harriet, so too are our bears! When Hong Kong's "Prestige" magazine featured our celebrity supporter in its magazine, much of the article was devoted to Animals Asia and the rescue.
As our gorgeous Snoopy explores her new world of sight, please let me say a huge thank you of behalf of the whole team (and of course, Snoopy) for all your messages of support. Snoops was especially chuffed with her “Get Well Soon” cards ;-)
The sadness we all felt that Snoopy wasn’t progressing as well as we’d hoped rippled through the sanctuary. Despite the advice to “be patient” from ophthalmologists Claudia and David of the Animal Health Trust in the UK who had so generously come over and operated on Snoopy and our other blind and partially sighted bears, I think we were all feeling a little down.
When one of our volunteer vet nurses, the lovely Anne Letham-White, returned to her native New Zealand, she took with her much more than her amazing memories of her time with us in Chengdu. I asked Anne if she would write down her story of Xiao Hua (Litle Flower) so I could share it with you. So here, in Anne’s own words
While I was in Vietnam recently with our gorgeous bears (and team!) in the beautiful Tam Dao sanctuary just outside Hanoi, our amazing celebrity supporter Karen Mok was in Chengdu with our bears, dogs and cats!
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.