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Meet the delightful painted teddies saving real life bears from cruelty

18 October 2017

Grace at sanctuary

For thousands of moon and sun bears trapped in tiny cages, help is coming from an unlikely source – teddy bears.

Moon bear Grace was held for years in a tiny cage on a Vietnamese bile farm.

Having been trapped in the wild, she was kept alive so that the bile produced in her gall bladder could be systematically extracted for use in traditional medicine.

Thankfully Grace was rescued in 2010 by Animals Asia and has spent the last seven years free to explore a large grassy enclosure, forage for healthy food and play with other rescued bears.

Poor grace is blind from cataracts and her traumatic past means she usually keeps to herself, but she does have friends – most notably fellow moon bear Luca who enjoys a gentle wrestle.

But Grace has other friends too, in a far off place. On the other side of the world, there is another bear called Grace. But this Grace smiles at the world from a painting, wearing a purple bowtie, and has a matching purple flower on her head.

Grace teddy bear

Teddy bear Grace is a bright and beautiful portrait by the German artist Jane von Sponeck. She is exquisitely painted and will one day call a child’s bedroom home.

Since hearing about bear bile farming nearly 20 years ago, Jane has been desperate to help the thousands of bears suffering needlessly across Asia.

Jane said: 

“When I first heard of these cruel practices I was absolutely horrified and my life started to be influenced by this cruelty. I desperately wanted to help and so became an Animals Asia supporter.”

She started by painting and selling teddy bear pictures for children and when these grew more popular she began accepting commissions and printing Christmas cards.

Every teddy bear image sold in Europe raises funds that save real-life bears on the other side of the world from unimaginable suffering.

Today Jane’s teddy bears have their own website which allows the delightful paintings to raise funds for even more real bear rescues.

Artist Jane von Sponeck

Jane said:

“Everybody does what they can for these bears to try and give them the lives they deserve after all they’ve suffered. I’ve always loved painting and this way I can contribute more to the bears than I could otherwise, while also instilling a love for bears in the new generation.”

In the last 19 years, Animals Asia has rescued 600 bears – mostly from the bear bile industry – in China and Vietnam. Today around 400 bears continue to live happy new lives at their sanctuaries in both countries.

Grace at sanctuary

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“Jane has been a real hero for the bears and a personal friend for a very long time. Each of us has it in us to be the difference for these bears and Jane’s passion and ingenuity has helped change lives. She is inspirational and shows what can be achieved with a little bear love.”

As of 2017, an estimated 10,000 bears remain trapped on bile farms in China, with another 1,000 suffering the same fate in Vietnam.

Visit Jane’s website to see the teddies saving real-life bears and if you want to help change a long-suffering bear’s life, consider placing an order.


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