Urgent repairs required to Chengdu Sanctuary following heavy rain

15 July 2013

Following heavy rain at Animals Asia’s Chengdu sanctuary in China that has caused damage onsite, staff are planning urgent repairs to ensure their safety through the ongoing rainy season. Whilst the rain has currently stopped, the local government authority has issued a notice of expected further severe rainstorms, advising preparation for flooding from now until the 20th July. 

It’s estimated that repairs will require tens of thousands of dollars, with the aim being not only to fix the damage caused but to also further strengthen the riverbank against future extreme weather. The river wall must be stabilised in the next seven days, and further measures to secure the sanctuary are being undertaken. An urgent appeal to raise funds has been launched. 

Last week, with large parts of the site underwater due to torrential rains and flooding on surrounding farmland, the worst fear was that the riverbanks of the adjacent River Pi would burst. 

Now, with over a month of the rainy season remaining, urgent repairs are needed. 
Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson commented: 

“The team reacted quickly to rapidly changing circumstances as the river rose during the heaviest of rains and the release of water from the dam upstream. Our long-standing flooding protocols proved up to the task and were implemented superbly by the team in the most extreme of conditions. 

“Now we need to repair the riverbank urgently and further strengthen it so that, as weather patterns continue to change, we can be proactive in the ongoing prevention of future floods.” 

During the worst of the flooding, staff safely evacuated the brown bears housed closest to the river. With the families of many local staff also facing flooding in their own nearby homes, most were allowed home. A skeleton staff of around 40 remained. This included security staff keeping a 24-hour watch on the river, with most personnel spending their nights attempting to sleep in the hospital at the highest point on site. With several bears housed in dens on the ground floor, staff and resident dogs joined together sharing every available room on floor two.” 

Meanwhile the remaining bears in bear houses were kept inside their dens with staff ensuring they continued to be fed, medicated and checked as the hours wore on 

While the site remained largely intact the team witnessed nearby riverfront dwellings collapsing and being washed away. Animals Asia took into account decades of flood records when originally constructing the sanctuary and their planning paid off. While staff suffered sleepless nights alongside evacuated animals everybody was safe, and it is hoped future extreme weather can be faced with increased confidence. 

Jill Robinson added: 

“Our staff excelled in keeping the bears safe, dry and blissfully unaware in their beds throughout the ordeal. Floods such as this are rare, but with weather patterns changing globally and here in China, we must ensure that urgent repairs and reinforcements guarantee the safety of staff and animals, and the future of the sanctuary itself.”