A TV talent show sensation’s decision to sing about the plight of the moon bears saw the issue of bear bile farming reach a mainstream audience on Friday night, prime time Chinese TV.
Following her performance, the singer - enigmatic, waif-like Su Dan – and the moon bears were the talk of China’s vibrant social media. The song “Silent Forest” was later watched over 16 million times online after being viewed earlier by a TV audience of 25 million.
Brave Su Dan stood in front of judges and an in-house audience to ask China, in her self-penned lyrics, to: “Hold my hand, Please wake up.”
The song details the horrors of bear bile farming
To watch the performance click here.
“Sing My Song – The Song of China” is CCTV-3’s most popular Friday night broadcast and follows a format similar to international hit The Voice. In a twist on the familiar talent show format, the show aims to discover talented songwriters
The judges, including Liu Huan, who sang the theme song at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, were falling over themselves to praise Su Dan’s heartfelt ode to the moon bears. The format demands each are asked to bid for the songs they like best and all wanted Su Dan’s track. Now it will go into the next round with the winning tracks going on to be included on what is guaranteed to be a multi-million selling album.
One judge, popular singer, Yang Kun, said:
"When I realised the song was about moon bears, I totally understood what the lyrics were about and was touched."
CCTV-3, Song of China, and CCTV News all highlighted “Silent Forest” on their official Weibo pages, bringing the track’s message to a further 15 million viewers, Su Dan’s own web page has had over 750,000 hits since the groundbreaking performance.
Su Dan, a young music teacher from the central city of Xi’An spoke of her motivation for writing the song after a visit to an Animals Asia bear sanctuary while visiting Vietnam on holiday.
“I always shy away from cruelty. But it leaves me heart-broken, even when I intentionally try to avoid hearing or looking at it, because this cruelty does exist.
“Seeing rescued cubs growing up peacefully, I really felt these lovely creatures are just like us. They like to play. They feel sad sometimes. They play tricks and they nap. My song is written with humanity and empathy, and I wrote it with all my heart.”
Presently Vietnam is believed to have 2,400 bears living on bear bile farms, while in China more than 10,000 bears endure the daily torture of bile extraction. Animals Asia also runs a rescue centre in Chengdu, China, where it has rescued 285 bears from the bile trade and continues to care for 140. Su Dan is a long-term friend of the organisation having sung at its 15th anniversary celebrations last year (pictured below).
Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:
“The opposition to bear bile farming is now absolutely mainstream and Chinese people are using every platform they can to raise awareness and voice their opposition. Su Dan is a hero to us. To watch her stand there, in front of China and deliver the most beautiful song about such profound suffering is inspiring to us all. Her bravery is truly breath taking.
“There is no doubt that Su Dan has struck a chord with public opinion and the reaction shows the vast opposition to bear bile farming in China. Su Dan and bear bile farming is known to millions now as a result of that performance – she now has millions more cheering her on worldwide.”