Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre wins Outstanding Wildlife Sanctuary 2021

05 November 2021

After one of the most challenging years in Animals Asia’s 25-year history, we were delighted that our bear rescue centre in China was named the Carole Noon Outstanding Wildlife Sanctuary at the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries’ (GFAS) 2021 awards ceremony this week. 

Animals Asia’s founder and CEO Jill Robinson attended the virtual event with Ryan Marcel Sucaet, Bear & Vet Team Director at the China bear sanctuary, to accept the award which had received “hundreds of inspiring submissions from across the world.”

GFAS’ Global Director of Africa and Asia, Jackie Bennett, announced the award by saying that “2021 has been a challenging year for all of us and certainly for our sanctuaries. With travel restrictions, new requirements in place and ongoing uncertainty, it’s an achievement to complete the transfer of even one animal to sanctuary.”

“Yet, earlier this year, Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre did more than that. It moved 101 moon bears across 750 miles from a former bear bile farm and breeding facility, and it brought them home.”

Help us bring our award-winning care to more bears:

21 years of excellence in animal care

Animals Asia’s China bear sanctuary was established in 2000, the first of our bear sanctuaries and has received more than 400 bears since then. Both our China and Vietnam bear rescue centres became GFAS accredited in 2014, and “both continue to embody excellence in animal care, responsible operations and management, and commitment to collaboration”, Jackie said. 

She continued, “Having worked with Animals Asia over the years, I know the bears in their sanctuaries have a great life. They can choose their friends, and how to spend their days. Relaxing in the sun in spacious outdoor enclosures, splashing in pools and playing with enrichment.”

“Careful attention is given to their diets and veterinary care. And with this is a strong sense of teamwork and pride. Everyone working towards a goal of not only caring for the bears in sanctuary but also of raising awareness and changing hearts and minds to move closer to an end to bear bile farming.”

“What true sanctuary really means”

The GFAS committee was moved and inspired by stories from sanctuaries across the world who, even under normal circumstances, operate under challenging conditions. The global Covid-19 pandemic has placed even more pressures on animal welfare and rescue organisations. 

Yet despite travel restrictions, staff shortages and ever-changing announcements throughout the pandemic, Animals Asia undertook not only the biggest bear rescue operation in its history, but the biggest ever bear move of its kind.

“The details of this move are incredible.” Jackie continued; “Watching the videos of those bears safe at the China sanctuary and walking on grass for the very first time, we see what true sanctuary really means.”

“For these bears, it means they’re home. Where they will be seen and respected as individuals and have the gift of freedom and companionship.”

“A win for Animals Asia worldwide”

On receiving the award, Ryan said, “Thank you GFAS for bestowing this new but already iconic award on us. It’s difficult to express how much this means to everyone at the China Bear Rescue Centre. This past year has proven intense and challenging for all sanctuaries, but we persevere for the animals in our care.”

Jill added, “It’s an honour to win this award, not only for our China sanctuary but for our sister sanctuary in Vietnam and the whole organisation. This is a win for Animals Asia worldwide and everyone is just so proud of the China team for bringing these 101 bears home under such tough circumstances.”

Ryan concluded, “This award is for my team. Their tenacity, endurance and unwavering compassion are the reasons we were able to achieve what we, for so long, felt was unachievable. This award proves that the only cure is kindness.”


Watch the 101 Moon Bear Homecoming film