Hi efuryone Hawwy here
Now I has intervood 49 people to date and my 50th intervoo is with the most inspiring hoomin I has efur had de pleasure to meet. I has de pleasure to intervoo and introduce to yoo the most amazing Jill Robinson MBE Dr.med.vet h.c @moonbearJill who is the founder of @animalsasia here is my intervoo wiv Jill……….
Hi Jill fanks fur agweein to do de intervoo.
Oh I see yoo got me picfur and you showed it to Chu Chu cool! If yoo is sitting comfortably we shall start………..
You are the founder and CEO of Animals Asia. How did all this start?
The journey with the bears began following my first visit to a bear farm in 1993 which changed the course of my life. I’d been living in Hong Kong since 1985, working then for the International Fund For Animal Welfare on undercover investigations of the animal markets of China, the Philippines and South Korea.
On that day in 1993, I joined a group of tourists and went “undercover” to investigate a practice I’d heard about but never seen. There in this horrible dark room, staring at row after row of caged and tortured bears I had never seen such treatment of animals, or felt such shame of being a human being.
One bear – described in all her misery below – began a journey which would see Animals Asia being founded in 1998 and today we have rescued 285 bears in China and 115 bears in Vietnam – 400 bears exactly in total as of today.
Jasper, kept in this crush cage you see here for 15 years.
What is bear Bile Farming?
More than 10,000 bears – mainly moon bears, but also sun bears and brown bears – are kept on bile farms in China, and around 2,400 in Vietnam. The bears are milked regularly for their bile, which is used in traditional medicine.
Bile is extracted using various painful, invasive techniques, all of which cause massive infection in the bears. This cruel practice continues despite the availability of a large number of effective and affordable herbal and synthetic alternatives.
Most farmed bears are kept in tiny cages. In China, the cages are sometimes so small that the bears are unable to turn around or stand on all fours. Some bears are put into cages as cubs and never released. Bears may be kept caged like this for up to 30 years. Most farmed bears are starved, dehydrated and suffer from multiple diseases and malignant tumours that ultimately kill them.
Dis is Oliver, kept in this cage for 30 years of his life. Dis is one old and slightly deformed bear after years unable to move in his cage but his love of life is undimmed.
How did you feel the first time yoo went to a bear Bile farm?
It was in 1993 – exactly 20 years ago this month.
The sights, sounds and smell of that hideous place was unforgettable and it seemed as though a “lightening bolt” of shock surged it’s way through my heart as I stepped into the bile extraction basement, utterly unprepared for what I would see. There were 32 Asiatic black bears (or moon bears after the lemony crescent moon of fur on their chest) staring bleakly out from rusting “coffin” cages. I heard strange “popping” vocalisations and the closer I moved to the cages the louder these vocalisations became. I’ll never forget thinking, with some degree of shame, that what I was learning from these bears was the lesson of fear. To them I was just another human approaching their cage, with the intention of doing them harm. How could they tell the difference between me and the farmer who cruelly milked them of their bile?
To this day the sound continues to haunt me – we hear it on farms we visit, and when we first rescue bears from the farms.
As I walked around in shock, looking at bears with scared and skeletal bodies, smashed teeth, and abdomens with 4-6 inch metal catheters protruding from them, I must have brushed too closely to a cage, and felt something gently touch my shoulder. Turning around in fright I came face to face with a female moon bear who had her paw through the bars of the cage. Rather than taking the sensible course and leaving her alone, it just seemed the most natural response to hold her paw and I can feel her claws now as they just squeezed my fingers rather than grabbing and hurting my hand, as she had every right to do. For just a few seconds I looked in to her beautiful brown eyes knowing instinctively that there was nothing I could do to help her, but knowing too that this one individual bear had begun something which would change my personal and professional path. I never saw her again, but called her Hong (Cantonese for bear) and so began the journey of the Moon Bear Rescue.
You not only help bears but ofur anipals too. What ofur work does Animals Asia do with dogs and cats?
You may feel uncomfortable reading this Harry, but our second flagship campaign is Cat and Dog Welfare which works with local groups across China (of which there are now over 100 today) in conferences, welfare initiatives, workshops and training programmes to give a voice to companion animals and provide a convincing argument as to why they are friends, and not food. Since beginning Dr Dog, an animal therapy programme, in 1991, this initiative has seen over 1000 dogs cheering up patients in hospitals, disabled centres, homes for the blind, deaf, elderly and young, and has now spread to seven countries across Asia. Dr Dog has also inspired a sister programme called Professor Paws which sees dogs in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Sichuan and Shenzhen working with children in schools to raise awareness of animal welfare and create a compassionate relationship with animals who have proven themselves to be our very best friends.
We also carry out extensive investigations of the dog and cat markets, slaughterhouses and restaurants of China, and run far reaching public awareness campaigns, conferences and competitions, promoting messages of animal welfare and respect.
For many years we have worked intensively with provincial government authorities and policy makers in China on humane population control, rabies and disease prevention and responsible pet management as well as working with local groups on trap, neuter, release (TNR) programmes for cats. We encourage stronger enforcement of current regulations, and alongside other animal welfare groups, campaign for the introduction of animal protection legislation in China.
You campaign against Zoos and safari parks in China. Why?
We believe with all species that each individual is deserving of kindness and respect. In zoos, animals are very often denied even free access to water and food and so we also conduct investigations of these facilities across China and submit the findings of cruelty and abuse to their management offices, and to government departments. We work closely with the China Association of Zoological Gardens and provide educational workshops (including enrichment programmes for animal carers and managers, veterinary capacity training in order to improve clinical skills and animal welfare concepts) and promote change in the way captive animals are treated and cared for. Public awareness is important of course too and we give presentations and workshops to schools and university students in order to enhance their empathy for animal welfare and emotions, and encouraging them to speak out about cruel animal performances. In 2010, following our investigation in to animal performances, the government ministry responsible for the management of Chinese zoos issued a directive to ban the use of wild animals in such performances.
What celebrities support yoo and why do yoo think they have drawn to Animals Asia?
In the UK our Patron is the wonderful Virginia McKenna, actress and Founder of Born Free, who has been my friend and mentor for almost 20 years. We also have the fantastic support of our UK Ambassador, accomplished actor, Peter Egan who has been an incredible voice for the bears and has a bear called Peter! Our UK Cat and Dog Welfare Ambassador is lovely celebrity Paul Martin of BBC Floggit who has a bear called Bluebelle also at our China Sanctuary. Other celebrities include, Martin Roberts, Dave Spikey, Pam St Clement, Brian Blessed, Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham, Mark Carwardine, Terry Waite, and Ricky Gervais who named one of our bears, Stan (who sadly passed away).
Stephen Fry has generously narrated our film on Animal Planet and tweets updates about our work.
Lesley Nicol (Mrs Patmore from Downton Abbey) is also fabulously supportive and will be coming out to China to visit our sanctuary and bears soon.
US actress Ali MacGraw has been amazing in helping to prevent a threatened eviction from our sanctuary in Vietnam.
Matt Sorum (the legendary Los Angeles-based drummer, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award winning musician who has played with Guns N Roses, The Cult and Velvet Revolver) has been superbly supportive and recorded several public service announcements for the bears – including now with
Joe Elliot Def Leppard
Glen Hughes Deep Purple
Matt Sorum – Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver and the Cult
Duff McKagan Guns n Roses
Steve Stevens Bill Idol
Gilby Clarke Guns n Roses
Sebastian Bach Skid Row
Singer Olivia Newton John (Grease) has long supported Animals Asia.
I believe they all support us acknowledging the incomprehensible suffering of the bears, and their understanding of how profoundly their celebrity and voices can help.
What can people do to help?
Fundraising and awareness raising are the two all-important necessities for any charity and there are lots of ways for people to get involved in raising funds and awareness for us. We hold lots of events throughout the year at which people can find out much more about our work, while meeting like-minded people and having an good time. Do come along to our events, advertised on the Animals Asia UK website
We have an online shop on our website www.animalsasia.org where there are many merchandise ideas both for humans and for bears and dogs! How about Sponsoring a Bear for all its food and medical needs, or a visit to a hospital by one of our Dr Dog’s. If schools are interested in getting involved, Animals Asia in the UK has an education programme offering a free education pack for primary schoolchildren and speaker visits suitable for all ages.
Animals Asia UK has a wonderful network of volunteer support groups up and down the country and people wishing to attend events locally would be more than welcome to join these and help out.
There are many other ways you can get involved and support our work. To find out more please visit our website or contact the UK office on 01579 347148, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just a big woof of thanks to you Harry for supporting this campaign and joining us with more doggy steps in this thousand mile journey to freedom.
Until the cruelty ends, thank you to the moon and back, Jill x
So der yoo has it pals. Incase yoo was wonderin dis is Oliver and Jasper now and yes dey did get rescued by Jill and Animals Asia but still have de scars of der life in captivity…….
Jasper was descwibed to me by a member of staff as de brad pitt of bears. He is vewy handsome.
Oliver is now enjoying his final years at the Animals Asia sanctuary, after a life-saving operation on a truck on his way back from being rescued from a farm 2,000 km from the sanctuary in Chengdu.
Thank yoo Jill and thank yoo all at Animals Asia for the amazing work yoo do. I am honoured to know yoo and hope I can continue to help in anyway I can. I too wuv yoo and de bears to de moon and back.
Your Hawwy xxxxxx