Yesterday afternoon the Chengdu Panda Hash experienced yet another socially-oriented and very informative Sunday run (click here for our post on the Red Dress Run two weekends ago). This week’s run was hosted by the “bear girls” or the women of the Chengdu Moon Bear Rescue Center.
Moon Bears (also known as Asiatic Black Bears) get there name from the white crescent shaped patch of fur on their chests. They are commonly imprisoned on bile farms for the use in Chinese medicine. Through the process of bile collection these animals usually experience grave torture, living in cramped cages, getting little or no food and water and having rusty metal catheters inserted in their gall bladders. While legal methods of extraction and alternative synthetic bear bile use are in existence there are still many illegal farms in China that cause extreme mental and health damage to these animals (image source for picture here).
Located in Xin Du, a suburb of 20 km outside of Chengdu, the rescue center takes in bears from recently shut down illegal farms and begins the long and painful rehabilitation process for the bears, some of which have lived on the farms for the majority of their lives. The bears often require major surgery, nourishment and lots of love, ironically given to them by the same species that held them in dire captivity for so long.
At the center they focus on giving the bears as natural as an environment possible. Approximately 160 diligent works focus on changing stimulus such as toys and environmental furniture and hiding food around the giant compounds for just as many bears. The caring workers observe the bears movements closely, offering the medical and mental care and give the bears a natural environment to live out their lives. The center’s once a month open days further emphasizes to visitors that the center is not a zoo but a rehabilitation site for animals kept in captivity for too long.
The center is part of the China Bear Rescue campaign which is one of three major campaigns of Animals Asia. Jill Robinson, the founder of the organization was also the original muck racker to the use of bear bile farms in China. Animals Asia also spearheads a Cat and Dog Welfare campaign and a general action against animal cruelty campaign.
Our hosts’ passionate explanation, patience in answering questions and clear excitement to share their mission in Chengdu (and China) was both enlightening and inspiring…and the hash was pretty good too!
The Chengdu Moonbear Rescue Center is located 45 minutes outside of Chengdu. The next open days are June 18 and July 23 and visits can be arranged online through their website at www.animalsasia.org.