On a freezing
cold day in January, another 46 farmed bears
arrived at our Rescue Centre in desperate
condition... crammed in tiny, decrepit cages they
stared out in terror from their prisons as our
expert team swiftly unloaded them and began to
assess their pain-wracked bodies. With each new
group of bears that arrives, we never cease to be
shocked by their suffering and this group was no
different: emergency health checks revealed
missing limbs, crushed paws and bodies rubbed raw
by the unrelenting cage bars; whilst surgery to
repair their battered bodies, showed that many of
the bears had received multiple surgeries on the
farms to convert their gall bladders from one
excruciating method of bile extraction to another.
Miraculously, nearly all of these bears
have survived - and now join our other rescued
bears in the sanctuary as new symbols of hope. One
of these symbols is "Saskia", whose shocking image
on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle
had readers reeling in disgust and then pledging
their support as they read of her new freedom.
With 186 bears rescued so far and support
for our work snowballing across China, our
relationship with the Chinese Government continues
to strengthen. Invited by our Government partners
on an official trip to investigate bear farms in
Yunnan province, we were given an up-to-date
insight into the state of the industry.
In Yunnan we met a tragic bear we named
"Truth" was one of 531 bears
suffering on one farm, all with crude metal
catheters implanted into their gall bladders.
Almost unrecognisable as a bear, she looked at us
with hollow, tormented eyes as we took her picture
and wept - realising that there was nothing we
could do to save her, but promising she would not
die in vain.
And so, at an international
press conference a few months later, "Truth's"
image formed the towering backdrop to our expose
of the bear farmers deceit and our call to the
Chinese Government to "listen to the voice of
Truth". Using comprehensive evidence gathered
during the Yunnan investigation and from the 46
bears rescued in January 2005, we showed that the
new methods of bile extraction are every bit as
barbaric as the old methods. This powerful message
was carried far and wide by the Chinese press.
Media coverage in China continues to
escalate, as seen by their support of the rescue
of "Emma" and "Caesar" from Tianjin last year.
Encased in painful "full metal jackets" that cut
into their bodies, and with infection seeping out
of the holes in their abdomens, "Emma" (a
black/brown hybrid) and "Caesar" (a brown bear)
were in a terrible state. Today, following
extensive surgery and masses of tender loving
care, these two bears have blossomed into
magnificent ambassadors for our work.
"Snoopy" is another such bear who shows
that even the most hopeless of cases can often
pull through. Arriving in 2003, "Snoopy" brought
us to tears as we watched her thrashing her head
against the bars of her crush cage, blood oozing
from her open wounds. Disorientated, confused and
horribly scared - poor "Snoopy" was also blind.
Terrified of every sound, "Snoopy" took
many months to recover and regain her trust, but
despite her improvement she couldn't be released
into a large enclosure with electric fencing. So
"Snoopy" joined brain damaged "Rupert" and frail
little "Franzi" in the special care bear section,
known as the "Secret Garden". Her first steps were
incredible to see and it was not long before this
determined girl was splashing in the pool and
deliberately uprooting all the toys we had
specially nailed down to make her home familiar!
Today, the sanctuary is looking fantastic
and is a hub of activity as bears explore new
surroundings and new dens and enclosures continue
being constructed in preparation for dozens more
bears arriving in the next few months. With more
and more days open to the public each month, the
sanctuary is now a focal point for education and
awareness, as thousands of visitors from China and
abroad stream in to meet the bears and pledge
their support to help us end the barbaric practice
of bear farming.
Not a week goes by
without international or local Chinese reporters
present.... "Crocodile Man" Steve Irwin was
recently swamped by the Chinese media at the
sanctuary whilst filming his new series "New Breed
Vets" which features the Rescue Centre. He was
widely reported in the Chinese media saying: "The
work that Jill's team is doing is not only helping
repair the decades of suffering and abuse that
these gorgeous bears have endured, but they are
also educating the local people to respect and
protect their wildlife".
Closer to home,
superstar Karen Mok - the "Madonna of Asia" - was
filmed cutting her adopted bear ‘Bao Be’
(Treasure) out of his tiny cage in front of a
barrage of press. Working with corporate giants,
such as Swiss watch makers Movado, Karen is
helping to lift this campaign to greater heights
within China and a beautiful limited edition Moon
Bear Watch is flying off the shelves - with huge
banner advertisements in department stores across
An advertising campaign in Hong
Kong (which sees 100’s of free ads on the
underground stations and buses) shows a caged Moon
Bear with the immortal words "You can get out
anywhere you want - he can't". Whilst our
beautiful larger-than-life mascot, "Moonie", is
also attracting huge attention worldwide - popping
up in China, Australia, England and Hong Kong with
our wonderful support groups!
continue this valuable work without the help of
caring, committed friends like you. With every
farm shut down (over 40 to date) and every bear
rescued, we are now closing the net around the
industry as never before. With 3 years to go
before the Olympic Games in Beijing in August 2008
we are calling on the Central Government of China
to close every farm and help us accelerate the
rescue. Until they do, bears like "Truth" continue
to die in agony on farms - and this is why your
generosity and support is so crucial in the coming
months and years.
Help us to reach them,
help us to break open the bars and give these
bears the summers, the friends and the choices
they have never had in their lives before.
Together, we WILL end bear farming in China.
From all of us in Animals Asia, grateful
thanks and big bear hugs!
Jill feeds new
Gail, Ruth &
Kati tend to "Womble"
"Truth" at AAF
10 years in metal jacket
|Caesar takes her
first steps of freedom|
Blind "Snoopy" on
arrival in Nov 2003
"Snoopy" today -
happy and healthy!
Karen Mok &
bear in the China press
Splashed across HKG Underground!
thrills Chengdu fans