Despite our new bears having better body condition than those we received last March, the emergency health-checks are showing all too clearly the problems that the bear farmers are attempting to disguise.
The air was full of anticipation and excitement – it always is when new bears arrive. First you feel elated that animals that have been slowly wasting away in cages, tortured by the extractors of their bile, will soon be released from their suffering. And then you feel sick to your stomach, knowing that the odds will be against some of them and they will arrive with us too late.
Just when I’d written about Chris’s new lease on life, things took a turn for the worse.
This was a bear who originally had a belly full of pus and a hernia the size of a football. I'll never forget Chris arriving at our door on the 10th of June 2002 from a bear farm in Dujiangyan.
Writing about animal emotions after enjoying the London pantomime, “The Jungle Book”, the other week it seemed appropriate to reflect on the thoughts of two very special people who have championed animal emotions for decades.
Something told me in vet Leanne’s voice that it was going to be bad news. I’d returned to Hong Kong at the weekend for meetings this week and was dreading a call from the team as they went back to the dog rescue centre on Tuesday.
On this latest trip to Qimeng Rescue Centre I remembered to bring tissues. “Little Eddie” has had two reprieves now as her health goes up and down – and I’d convinced myself that I would be holding her frail little body for the last time. This is a photo of her that Rainbow Zhu, our Education Manager, took as she arrived on the truck:
Stories like this are food for the soul. These photos in the Hong Kong Chinese-language media almost need no words as our Dr Dog ambassadors proudly show the community how healing and beneficial companion animals are for us all.
This wasn’t the way it was meant to turn out – well not if you believe in fairy stories. The 149 rescued dogs would settle down in their new rescue centre, contented and safe, and would all live happily ever after.
Just a year ago, we had a very special guest on site - a Taiwanese rock star by the name of Xin. A vegetarian and animal lover, he must have fallen in love with the bears as he promised to compose a new song for them before he returned.
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.