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Animals Asia celebrates 20 years of pioneering opposition to bear bile industry

08 August 2018

Charity which revealed bear bile farming atrocity to the world marks two decades of rescues and is now at the forefront of industry’s end in Vietnam.

Just outside of China’s Chengdu city, a month of celebration is taking place. Vegan buffets are eaten, glasses are raised and toasts shouted as over 140 staff at Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre mark the organisation’s 20th anniversary.

As China’s only rescue centre for bears, the animals have been treating themselves to tree parties here for decades, but this month it is the humans’ turn to enjoy a moment of merrymaking.

And there is a lot to celebrate.

Since being founded in 1998, Animals Asia has played a leading role in exposing what many believe to be the most extreme example of animal abuse taking place in the world today.

READ MORE: Chapter 1 - the one where Jill started it all

When the Hong Kong-based organisation was set up in 1998, few people either domestically or internationally were aware of the brutal practice of bear bile farming, which sees moon bears stuffed into tiny cages for their entire lives so that their bile can be extracted for use in traditional medicine.

Wilfred in cage, China 2008

As well as the mental trauma of being confined so extremely, the bears also suffer a litany of health problems including cancer, infections and blindness.

But thanks to Animals Asia’s pioneering work, bear bile farming has been exposed to the world.

And the most effective ambassadors of all have been the more than 600 bears Animals Asia has rescued from the industry.

Moon bear Pippin and her best pal Brownyn at CBRC, 2012

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“Every bear’s body tells a story of what they suffered and of the terrible emotional and physical trauma caused by bear bile farming.

“But as individuals, they give us hope too. Their ability to recover, to live happy lives and ultimately to forgive, proves that even after the most extreme cruelty, rehabilitation is possible. And if we can repair these broken bears after all they’ve been through, we can realise our end goal.”

Two decades on from the founding of Animals Asia, the end of the bear bile industry is closer than ever.

In Vietnam, Animals Asia’s relentless pursuit of an end to the trade led to a historic agreement with the Vietnam government in 2017 that will see every bear bile farm closed and all bears sent to sanctuary by 2022.

This landmark agreement to end the suffering forever is just one of the many successes being toasted at the China Bear Rescue Centre. There will be talk too of the moment public condemnation prevented an industrial scale bile farm selling shares on the stock market, the time the police and a local hospital saved the life of moon bear Oliver during a dramatic rescue, the positive collaboration to this day with government officials in animal protection – and of course, a glass raised for every bear loved and lost who was able to enjoy their first steps on grass.

Jill said:

"It's hard to imagine when I think back to the first time I encountered a bile farm in 1993, to the founding of Animals Asia in 1998, and now 20 years later, and all that we've achieved for the moon bears in China and Vietnam. It seems like a dream. But saving the lives of these precious animals has become reality for us and for them – and every day we get to rescue and ultimately rehabilitate these bears is truly a gift for us all."

Just look what can be achieved when animal lovers around the world unite against cruelty. One person can make all the difference. And you can too…

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