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.
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.