By Jill Robinson, founder Animals Asia
Every letter typed on this keyboard, every second it takes to tell the story of individual bears is a second too long for these majestic animals who are in agony on the farms.
It’s a beautiful spring day here in Chengdu, home to 285 bears rescued into this green and pleasant oasis - and yet for all the celebration that so many bears have already found sanctuary, is absolute grief for those remaining caged and in pain.
The fact is simple and upsetting and almost impossible to imagine in terms of the suffering that is out there for over 10,000 bears on bile farms in China.
That’s 10,000 bears in coffin-sized cages. The majority facing daily bile extractions through an open wound with their minds driven mad through boredom and pain. Tragically, they are kept alive only so they can continue to be abused and drained of their bile, day after day, after day.
Animals Asia has rescued almost 600 bears through our groundbreaking work to end bear bile farming in China and Vietnam. But the rescue is just the start.
Each bear is respected as an individual and,we are committed to making them happy and seeing their lives become whole. Gently helping their broken bodies to become pain free, and providing an environment that meets all their physical and psychological needs.
This is a place they can forage and climb and play and wrestle, and hear and smell the perfect embrace of nature all around. A place where they lift their noses skywards and breath in the natural delights of this waking season, a place where comfort in other bears is found, helping them to overcome their past through companionship of new found friends.
A place where they can have fun. Perhaps the most important pleasure of all.
This happiness that we work so hard to achieve for the bears - means each one becomes an ambassador for the cause. Their “before” is a reminder of the evils of the bear bile trade. Their “after” shows the world what can be done.
In Vietnam we are seeing a spate of cub rescues. These are terrified youngsters, destined for bile farms, rescued from traffickers, confiscated by Forestry and delivered into the loving arms of our carers.
Without mothers to teach basic survival skills and without a safe space to release them – we promise each one that we will care for them for the rest of their lives. A promise we are determined to keep for up to 30 years ahead.
In 2045 Goldie and Murphy will still be playing in the sunshine. All of our current staff will have most likely retired. Many will no longer be with us.
That’s how big a commitment this is - but we take it gladly.
Animal lovers demanding change isn’t always enough. We have to go further than this to see true “sanctuary” for those caught up in these industries of shame. If animals aren’t being cared for properly someone has to stand up and offer better care. This is our commitment, and our promise to these bears.
Today, we ask you to make that commitment with us and consider sponsoring one bear.
Just as every journey starts with a single step – removing 10,000 bears from bile farm cages starts with one rescue, then two, then hundreds and thousands. We need ongoing support from Governments, but we also need people too.
None of us will end bear bile farming on our own but every bear freed is another step. It’s a journey that can only be made together.