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China Bear Rescue
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Rescue Diary

Dateline July 2005


46 bears arrive at the AAF Rescue Centre


"Saskia" arrived petrified

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”

"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 China.

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!

We cannot 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 arrival "Abracadabra"


Gail, Ruth & Kati tend to "Womble"


"Truth" at AAF Press Conference


Caesar caged 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!


"Moonie". Mascot thrills Chengdu fans