10 things you’ve (probably) never done for a good cause (and the people who did them)

24 September 2015

We all love bears. Now we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to ask the question we’re asking ourselves today:

“What would you do for the bears?”

Every little bit helps. Donations, spreading awareness and giving your time. But there are those who take it to a whole other level.

Read on for some truly bear-raising tales:

1. The pumpkin growers – Sarah and Ray Armstrong

Sarah and Ray have been growing pumpkins competitively for a while now, so they know a special pumpkin when they see it. And when this pumpkin was well on the way to its eventual 350kg weight, they knew it was something exceptional.

That’s when they contacted us, offering the proceeds from its forthcoming sale. It’s one of the most unique fundraising routes we’ve encountered.

Sarah said:

“It’s amazing you keep fighting in the determined and passionate way you do. We couldn’t think of a more worthy or deserving charity, or a better cause.”

When it won ‘Best in Show’ a few weeks later, it seemed like destiny was on Animal Asia’s side. And with the bidding on the best Halloween pumpkin eBay’s seen already started, it seems like that luck is continuing.

2. The girl with the bear tattoo – Kat Savage

Kat is a UK-based fitness instructor, and she organised the first Zum’BEAR’thon. She managed to raise more than £800 – taking on bear cruelty with her boundless enthusiasm. She’s donated celebrity-owned surfboards, time and money – and if that wasn’t enough, her commitment to Animals Asia is in ink. She has an Animals Asia tattoo.

She said:

“To me, finding Animals Asia gave me faith that the world wasn’t so horrific, that people did really care about animal welfare, and the fact that Animals Asia do so much to educate and inspire change in communities meant something so much to me, it felt right to mark my ‘animal compassion’ part of my life journey with a tattoo that inspires change, creates a talking point to tell people about your work and carries a lifetime commitment. This baby can’t be removed easily!

“I guess that’s what makes this moment special too. The fact that the tattoo is modelled on one of the bears Animals Asia have saved, Xie Cheung... makes me even more proud to bear it on my skin.”

3. Sacrifice a brow, spare a bear – Samantha Dotters

Samantha is a double hero – both travelling to China as a volunteer as a veterinary nurse for Animals Asia in January of next year AND pledging to shave an eyebrow if her fundraising exceeds £500!

Like many before her, Samantha has been moved to action by the plight of the moon bear. As she said on her Instagram page:

“My brow may suffer for a few months but this is a small price to pay compared to the immense suffering that some of these bears endure daily for up to 30 years in a cage that is so tiny they can hardly move.”

4. The worst Valentine’s Day ever – Simon Bryant

For most of us a bad Valentine’s Day is when the card or flowers never arrive. Animals Asia Australia Ambassador Simon Bryant spent his Valentine’s Day cooking up a “recipe for freedom”, spending 12 hours in a bear cage to draw attention to the suffering of Asia’s endangered moon and sun bears.

But Simon doesn’t think his sacrifice was too great (even though he had an abscessed tooth and was in excruciating pain!).

“I’m mindful that the 12 hours that I will spend in the cage is less than .005 percent of the term that some bears are condemned to. Hopefully more people will become aware and help Animals Asia put a stop to a practice that is simply unacceptable.”

Australian celebrity chef Simon Bryant caged on Valentine's Day to promote moon bear freedom

5. The deep sea fundraisers - Pete Lund and the Formby Pool Scuba School

The UK’s Merseyside Animals Asia Foundation Support Group has been putting the ‘fun’ into fundraisers for a long time, with events like Murder Mystery Nights and French Cabaret Supper and Discos supplementing run-of-the-mill Charity Bridge Tournaments and Afternoon Teas.

But for this awareness booster, Pete Lund and the Formby Pool Scuba School decided to go deep – 3 metres deep. Kitted out in their finest scuba gear, the divers played chess for charity, raising over £2,000 on the day.

6. Going barefoot for bears – Cassie Fletcher

This Brixham, UK native really walks the walk when it comes to her advocacy – choosing a nice and balmy day last month to walk around town barefoot in support of bears. Clad in a shirt that said “Animals Asia – Barefoot for Bears”, Cassie walked all day, raising over £500 and getting attention and new converts to the cause everywhere she went.

7. He would cycle 500 miles, and 500 more, and 500 more, and 500 more, and nearly 500 more... just to be the man who cycled 2,450 miles for the bears – Abraham Cohen

Heading from Los Angeles to Chicago along the historic US Route 66, Abraham Cohen raised funds and awareness as he travelled. 

Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson said at the time:

“We’re excited and extremely grateful for Abraham’s decision to support Animals Asia on this incredible journey. Our work relies on the dedication and generosity of our supporters so when someone takes on a challenge as inspirational as Abraham’s it gives the entire organisation a huge lift. We’ll be cheering him on every mile.”

8. Carrying a cage for Oliver – David Bowen 

When David heard rescue bear Oliver’s story, he wanted to do something symbolic to highlight the cruelty of the bear bile industry. So he decided to strap a cage to his back and climb the highest mountain in Wales, Mt Snowdon. The cage weighed 30kg – one kilogramme for every year Oliver lay trapped.

On his JustGiving page, David wrote:

“Oliver, a brown bear, was probably born in 1979 (the same year as me). Shortly afterwards he was placed in a cage in a prone position and ‘milked’ every day for his bile. This is a very painful procedure.

“The cage was too small for Oliver to move around so he lay like this for a long time, a very, very long time. He lay there throughout the 1980s while I grew up and enjoyed primary school. For me the 1990s flew by in a rebellious teenage haze, and still Oliver lay in pain in that same cage, in the same position that he always had.

“The millennium came and went and the ‘noughties’ for me brought a family and a career, and yet the days, months and years still passed filled with frustration and pain for Oliver, as he remained trapped. Then one day (21 April 2010) a team from Animals Asia took Oliver from his cage and gave him the care and freedom that he didn’t know existed. Just thinking about an intelligent creature like this trapped and helpless spurs me on to complete my challenge, so that Animals Asia can carry on rescuing these animals and working to end bile farming.”

9. The marathon granny – Pamela Smith 

70-year-old Pamela raised her children to care about animals – but even now that daughter Vivienne Simms has been out of the house for quite a few years (coordinating Animals Asia UK’s Teeside Support Group), this sporty septuagenarian’s work isn’t done.

After securing a place in the Great North Run – the largest half-marathon in the world – Pamela broke her shoulder, which delayed her entry. As that injury healed, her ankle started acting up. But on the eve of her 70th birthday, Pamela decided she had to run the race, and had to do it now. The bears were depending on her.

And that’s what she did in 2014. Despite her dodgy ankle and her upcoming milestone, Pamela made it and raised £235 for the bears.

Here’s what her daughter Vivienne had to say:

“She did excellently well at completing the Great North Run. I’m very proud of her as she is 70 in November. She’s a massive help in what I do for Animals Asia and I couldn’t do this stuff without her.”

10. Human bears for animal bears – Some formerly hairy supporters 

It was at Animals Asia UK’s “80s Extravaganza” that some kind souls figured out a novel item to donate – their chest hair. Adding £358 to the night’s take of over £4,000, one of the organisers’ husbands and two of his friends were waxed for the bears. Due to popular demand, the organisers have decided to make this an annual event!

We’re not sure if this is inspirational as much as it is “hair-raising”, but it does go to show that there’s always a way to do a little more.

If you’ve been inspired by these incredible supporters and would like to do something special to raise funds and awareness for the bears – go here for more information.