As many of you know I am now in China familiarising myself with the work of Animals Asia, (AA) a non government organisation who work tirelessly to reduce animal cruelty and exploitation in Asia.
This is rather a long blog, but please bear with me – excuse the pun…!
AA have many projects, one of which I spoke about in my last Blog, Dr Dog, and another I will tell you about in my next Blog, Professor Paws, both of which aim to improve relationships between humans and animals and encourage mutual respect.
AA also work to improve the wellbeing of animals in captivity (zoos, circuses etc) with the ultimate aim to help bring an end to the captive animal industry. I have visited horrendous zoos, circuses and waterparks, and seen more exotic animals in one week in the cities of China than I have seen elsewhere in my entire life. This includes every iconic African animal you can think of plus arctic foxes, panda bears, dolphins and sharks to name but a few, and all in horrific captive environments, purely for human entertainment and greed.
However, AA’s core activity is the plight of the Moon Bears, who for centuries have been farmed for their bile for “medicinal” purposes. They are kept in tiny cages and bile is extracted from their gall bladders daily, through open catheters, with no anaesthetic. They can barely move in these small cages. I will say no more, take a look at pictures of the exhibits for yourself:
Animals Asia have been operating for 18 years under their founder Jill Robinson, and they will keep going until the cruelty ends. They work collaboratively with the governments and people of both China and Vietnam.
So far they have successfully rescued over 300 bears from Bear Bile farms and in once case managed to convince a bile farmer to convert their farm into a sanctuary. This is located in Nanning, China. Ex bile farmers, now carers, look after the bears here, together with Animals Asia vets and staff. This is not ideal for the bears as its a functional space with concrete enclosures, but at least they are no longer in pain and are being lovingly cared for.
The plan is to eventually move all of these bears to Animal Asia’s purpose built sanctuary in Chengdu where I have spent the last few days. It is paradise in comparison.
Here is Nicola Jayne, named after my niece, Nicola Olsen, who is currently in Nanning. She is hopeful of moving to Chengdu one day, where she will feel grass under her feet for the first time in her life.
Here are some photos of the lucky bears who are already living at Animal Asia’s Sanctuary in Chengdu.
There are currently 126 rescued bears living in the Chengdu sanctuary and once funds have been raised to extend this facility, and the necessary legalities have been attended to, the remaining 126 Nanning bears will move to Chengdu as well.
I suspect it will be a while before this happens though, as in excess of $750,000 will need to be raised to achieve this. I have no doubt however, that Jill and her team will make it happen one day – with a little help from her friends !
At the Chengdu sanctuary the bears need 2 yearly health checks to ensure their wellbeing. Below is a photo of one of the very trusting bears who after positive reinforcement training, now voluntarily offers his arm for blood tests. This is really good news as it negates the need for constant sedation.
I can’t believe this Bear did this, right in front of my eyes. I also can’t believe he has forgiven humans and is now trusting them! How incredible is that?
THE UNFORGOTTEN ONES…
This may seem a bit morbid, but to be honest it was strangely uplifting in a way. These are the graves of 160 bears I visited with Jill yesterday. They have all been buried by Animals Asia over the past 16 years and are bears who were given the dignity they deserve.
There have been storms here this last week and when we arrived there was a lot of debris covering the graves and headstones. I decide to spend the afternoon here by myself clearing up . It was so peaceful. I just wanted it to look nice for them.
I am off to Vietnam in a few days time, to see more of Animals Asia’s work there. I will keep you posted.