A group of 34 Chinese students commemorated the nation’s traditional Tomb Sweeping Day at Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre (CBRC) in memory of the sanctuary’s deceased bears.
The group of 10-11 year olds from the Golden Apple School in Chengdu were taken on a tour of the bear sanctuary before laying flowers on the 147 graves at the CBRC.
During the two hour ceremony, the students also cleaned the gravestones and left the bears’ favourite snacks on the graves, while the class band recited a specially prepared piece for the occasion.
Animals Asia founder and CEO Jill Robinson MBE, who made a special trip back to attend the ceremony, said:
“We are all so deeply touched that the students came to visit the graves, paying tribute to animals that lived and lost their lives in such a terrible way, and are now lying underneath the grass. Thank you for giving them more dignity and respect in death than they ever had in their metal cages.”
The director of external affairs office, Toby Zhang said:
“The fact that these students felt it was important enough to spend the holiday normally reserved for ancestors, visiting the graves of these long suffering former bile farmed bears speaks volumes about their respect for animals and also their support for Animals Asia’s work to end bear bile farming for good.”
To date Animals Asia has rescued 285 bears in China of which 147 have passed away mostly due to fatal internal complications such as liver cancer, cholecystitis and peritonitis as a result of invasive bile extraction.
The ceremony captured the attention of both local and national media including the China News Agency, the Chengdu Evening News, Sichuan Daily and Sichuan TV.
Tomb Sweeping Day has been celebrated for centuries and today is a national holiday in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Families traditionally visit the graves of their relatives to clean and sweep the gravesite and tombstone and leave offerings as a mark of respect.