In Pictures: Schools, shopping malls and learning centres rally to protect bears in China

18 July 2019

With bear bile farming still legal in China, Animals Asia is raising awareness of moon bears and why this iconic species needs our help. 

Exact figures are unavailable but it is believed at least 10,000 bears – mostly moon bears – remain in China’s still-legal bear bile industry.

To turn the tide and encourage the public to protect this iconic species, it is vital that awareness of the true conservation and welfare needs of these amazing animals is widely known.

Animals Asia has teamed up with schools, shopping malls, celebrities and learning centres to bring a message of compassion and moon bear protection to an audience of thousands so that China’s past doesn’t have to be its future.

Animals Asia Founder and CEO Jill Robinson MBE said:

“People are the same the world over – when they hear about bear bile farming, they are shocked, then resolved to helping the bears. In China we see exactly the same, and while influencing policy and lawmaking is difficult, we know that public opinion can be enormously influential.” 

In 2018, this message reached millions. Animals Asia visited more than 40 schools and local communities, spreading awareness of animal welfare and the need to protect the vulnerable to over 120,000 people. 

The charity also ran eight animal welfare awareness raising campaigns in Chinese metro stations, cinemas, elevators and shopping malls telling over three million people about the importance of protecting animals and avoiding cruelty.

And as these images show, the message – that every bear deserves our protection – is also being brought from schools to shopping malls across the country in 2019.

Learning for life

At Shengfei Primary School, pupils receive a truly enviable education. A key part of the curriculum is “life education” where respect for all life is nurtured in every child.

Pupils at this school are true #MoonBearHeroes having held a charity bazaar for the moon bears every year since 2014Sales of books, toys and home-cooked food has enabled the school to sponsor moon bear Leon, who – thanks to the incredible generosity and compassion of the kids – spent his days lounging in the pool and playing with friends at Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre. 

Learning outside the classroom

This year Animals Asia has begun to partner with Book & Book, a local after school club for young children focusing on picture book reading.

These young minds have been reading comics about moon bears, learning about their welfare needs, making their own moon bear picture books and are desperately looking forward to meeting their moon bear heroes at the sanctuary. 

I am a little guardian of nature

In Chengdu’s biggest shopping mall, a massive moon bear mascot towered over thousands of shoppers for the entirety of March.

Known as “Moonie”, this giant was the centrepiece of a campaign to raise awareness of animal sentience, welfare and the need to keep wild animals in their forest homes and out of captivity.

Also in attendance were qualified canine therapists from Animals Asia's Dr Dog programme. Young visitors were able to interact with the dogs, learn about their welfare needs and hear about how these incredible animals help people in need across Asia.

The theme of the campaign was “to protect animals, I am a little guardian of nature” and sure enough, with Moonie at the heart of activities, a generation of Chengdu children now carry the moon bears in their hearts and know they should be left alone to enjoy peaceful, happy lives in the wild.