With the bears having enjoyed some holiday cheer, this second blog is to pay tribute to the people who care for them, and to our staff in the offices in China, Vietnam and HQ in Hong Kong, and to our country staff in the US, UK, Germany, and Australia.
The year 2008 has certainly been challenging for the staff of Animals Asia. Tragedies and disappointments have tested us to the limit – not least the devastating earthquake, the arrival of such sick and dying bears to our sanctuary in China in March, and the disappointment of not seeing the promised 80 bears in Vietnam.
A fond farewell to Amanda our Bear Manager responsible for bear enrichment in Vietnam, ie, the bears' entertainment manager! Amanda was at our Tam Dao Sanctuary for 18 months and poured her heart and soul into creating a life of stimulation and fun for cubs and adults alike.
Since writing about gorgeous Haribo’s attention-seeking raspberry sounds, we’ve had people asking if it’s possible to hear them.
You know winter has arrived in Chengdu when Caesar starts to dig – and yesterday she dug for China.
We had a very special patient on our surgery table the other week when ophthalmologist Claudia Hartley came to visit. Apart from looking at the eyes of 17 of our moon bears with sight problems, Claudia also checked out Rhodri our resident leopard cat.
There she was – Harriet Tung (wife of shipping magnate Tung Chee Chen and sister-in-law of Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive, Tung Chee Hwa) standing in front of our gorgeous Andrew statue in Chengdu last week and talking to the Chinese media about the travesty of bear farming.
We had some wonderful visitors on site the other week - many of them "bear" people and all of them passionate about wildlife. The dream of the visit was sparked in 2007 when I was invited to make the keynote speech at the annual BIERZS (Bear Information Exchange for Rehabilitators, Zoos and Sanctuaries) conference in the USA.
Everyone by now knows that I don't have favourites. Much. How can you help it? There are some bears that have simply defied all the odds; they may not be the most handsome creatures on the block, but something goes pop in your heart and you’re smitten.
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.