You don’t mess around with a gigantic brown bear like Caesar when she’s due a routine health check. I remember only too well her rescue some four years ago when she bounced violently in her rusting cage on the bear farm in Tianjin and I thought she would crash through. Wearing a grotesque, painful full-metal jacket (see bottom photo), which secured a metal box and crude latex catheter that snaked itself into her gall bladder, Caesar was understandably a very unhappy bear.
So sorry to bring you more sad news from Chengdu. We have just lost Papermoon, who has been with us for nearly eight years and was one of the original three bears who started this amazing journey with us all.
I know many of you will be anxious to know how our five sick bears are getting on, so here’s an update from our Senior vet, Heather. And it’s mostly good news!
I took off from Brisbane airport a few minutes ago. Looking down, Australia’s paradise of beaches are slowly unfolding before me, and for the first time in 10 days I have some time to reflect, close my eyes and just breathe. It’s been a crazy, but wonderful, week and a half away, covering six states on our latest whirlwind tour, and now I’m flying back to Hong Kong exhausted, but unable to stop smiling knowing that so many Aussies are 100% behind our work.
I’ve just landed in Barcelona for presentations here in Spain – tired and happy after meeting old and new friends in Germany and Austria. The roadshow there went so wonderfully well thanks to the hard work and slog by our amazing team in Munich – so efficiently aided by our dedicated volunteers and supporters at the various events. Christa, Christine and Chee-Meng worked their socks off to make sure everything ran smoothly – and the week went by in a flash.
Looking back over the past few weeks, it all seems a bit surreal. We’ve waited so long and worked so hard to free more bears and now 11 of them are dead. Some of these poor souls were at deaths door, but others would most probably have lived on for many months in unrelenting agony, so at least we were able to save them from that.
We’ve received a number of queries as to why we can’t release the rescued bears straight away and why we have to keep them in recovery cages. Please let me explain.
I’ve just landed in beautiful Germany and I’m about to start on a whirlwind tour of four German cities, bringing to our supporters here news of our latest rescue. The appalling condition of many of the bears has made us more determined than ever to spread the word about the terrible trade in bile.
This week, I’ll be joining our lovely Christa, Chee-Meng and Christine at the roadshow in Germany – and of course there will be plenty to update our generous and kind-hearted German supporters with. They, like our other loyal supporters around the world, have stayed with us in faith and support since we began this “journey” eight years ago.
I’m leaving Chengdu today with a heavy heart and flying to Germany for presentations next week. It’s always sad to say goodbye to the bears and team – and this time is particularly hard. It’s been a tough few weeks for us all.
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.