29 September 2011

An angel for animals: Jill Robinson and the Animals Asia Foundation

I’m in a packed room at the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center. Dinner has just ended and the lights have dimmed. The screen in front of me flickers with projected images, and a woman – blond and attractive, with a tender, humble smile – begins speaking. For the next hour the audience sits spellbound as the woman, in a lilting English accent, tells us about her work with animals. The images we see and the stories we hear shock us into an almost-total silence, save for the occasional gasp, or groan, or unmuffled sob. By the time the presentation is over, my face is streaming with tears. How could I not have known this? What can I do about it now?

Discovered by Jill in 1993, this bear had been trapped in this small cage for years. (credit: AAF)
In 1993, Jill Robinson began the first investigations into the practice of bear “farming.” Across China and other parts of Asia, the endangered species known as Moon Bears are caged in the most deplorable conditions imaginable for the procurement of their bile, an ingredient used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The intense suffering of these beautiful animals led Jill to form the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) in 1998.

The talk I attended in Boston was part of AAF’s 2011 North American Roadshow, which has Jill and her American team traveling across the U.S. and Canada to raise awareness and gather support for AAF’s mission.

Andrew, one fortunate bears now enjoying life at AAF's Moon Bear Rescue Centre in China (credit: AAF)
If you are able to attend one of Jill’s presentations, I urge you to do so. Your life will not be the same after you have met this incredible woman and heard her first-hand experiences with her beloved Moon Bears. There are just a few dates remaining; click here for more details.

For those who can't attend the Roadshow events, AAF has produced a video called Moon Bear Rescue: A Decade On, which highlights the Moon Bear issue and AAF's progress in helping to put an end to the atrocity of bear bile farming. View the video below or click here to see it on YouTube.

Elizabeth Gordon | Facebook
Elizabeth is an Asian-Appalachian writer, activist, and college professor living in north central Massachusetts. Once an avowed carnivore, she was a vegetarian for 15 years before making the conversion to veganism. She is passionate about trying to live a life that lessens, rather than contributes to, the amount of cruelty and suffering in this world. Follow Elizabeth on her Vegosphere blog and Facebook page.

Photo credit: Animals Asia Foundation