The poly-tunnels - our quarantine area - are fast becoming a place of smiles. Many of the bears are visibly changing from the skinny and suspicious - and often understandably aggressive - arrivals of just two weeks ago.
Just a quick update on the visit to the sanctuary by Madam Yang Baijin, the new Secretary General of the China Wildlife Conservation Association. Madam Yang – accompanied by Mr Li Qingwen, Vice Secretary General of the CWCA – flew from Beijing on Friday at our request to see for herself the appalling state in which the 28 bears arrived.
It’s now two weeks since our 28 bears escaped their hellish existence on a farm. Sadly, for 11 of those bears, escape meant a premature death and no chance to experience the freedom and love that we so much wanted to give them.
After my last depressing post, at least I can bring you some encouraging news about our brave “Watermelon”. Gradually over the past few days this handsome fellow has taught himself to stand!
Eleven of the 28 bears are now dead – every one of them a victim of the free-drip method of bile extraction, touted as humane by the farmers (and some officials), every one of them suffering indescribable pain for so, so long.
This has been a busy weekend away from the China sanctuary for our General Manager (and chief government negotiator) Toby, and me. We flew to Beijing to meet urgently with our central government partners, the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), a department directly under the State Forestry Administration.
The health checks continue and our fears mount that we may have to say goodbye to even more of the 28 bears that came home to us on Monday night. It's difficult to put into words how we're all feeling, but I guess I don't have to. I'm sure you already know.
Today we buried three more bears – Qiang Sheng (Strong Life), Le Le (Happy) and Chengdu Truth.
Thursday started with another post-mortem of the bear we had so hoped would survive. Named Qiang Sheng (strong life) by Madam Xiong Beirong, head of the Wildlife Protection Department of Sichuan Forestry (pictured here at Qiang Sheng's initial health check), this beautiful bear’s auspicious name, tragically, wasn’t enough to get him through.
Hours later, we were health-checking Lotus, whom we’d also called “Chengdu Truth” in Chinese. There are no words to describe our boiling rage at witnessing this skeleton sitting in a cage with a body so wasted that he couldn’t even lift his head.
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.