That memorable day in Hong Kong, as a small team and some enthusiastic animal therapy Dr Dogs clambered onto an open-top bus, resplendent in banners and balloons, and launched Animals Asia on the 8th of August 1998.
Lovely Lesley Nicol's visit was initially organised so that she could come along and meet the bears – and naturally, so that they could benefit from all her kindness in talking about them once she returned home!
Now that the rain has eased and the flood waters have finally receded at our bear sanctuary in Chengdu, I'd like to take this opportunity to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who rose so superbly to the challenge and helped us so generously in fund raising for repairs.
Following all the excitement of hosting UK actress and celebrity Lesley Nicol on site with the bears in Chengdu, it was off to the UK to join our fabulous team in some fundraising and awareness events, and catch up with old and new friends.
What a perfect way to start an early summer’s afternoon in Chengdu – meeting Lesley Nicol and her husband Da’aboth off their flight from the UK. Despite about 24 hours of travel and little sleep, both were bright eyed and bushy tailed and raring to see the bears.
Our Australia Director Anne Lloyd-Jones has just written about a group of special needs children getting behind the bears, which has ultimately seen both animals and children benefiting from the project. The class is taught by Christine Wilkie, and also Robby Alcorn who is the partner of Animals Asia Ambassador Peter Northcote who, together with Robby and her class so generously sponsors one of our bears in Vietnam - Peter Robert Baynes.
Messages like this don't arrive in our inboxes very often thank goodness, but the message below from Saladin Zhu, our China PR new media officer, shows that one little boy had a very lucky escape last weekend:
Daniel Jeffreys, the Editor of Hong Kong’s Sunday Morning Post Magazine was recently on site in Chengdu reporting on the rescue of the Shandong bears and our work to end bear farming in China and Vietnam. Daniel’s story is out today, with our grateful thanks to him and the South China Morning Post for publicising the plight of the bears.
As many of you know, we had a special VIP guest on site in Chengdu at the end of May – the amazing actress Lesley Nicol who plays the wonderfully popular cook, Mrs Patmore, in Downton Abbey, and her super lovely husband Da'aboth. Lesley's visit comes shortly after fellow Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan was on site, also showing his support for the bears.
The furor over bear farming in China continues to grow - with amazing people here inventing ever more creative ways to get the message out.
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.