The Starter Vegan Podcast Episode #6 - An Interview with Alice Ng of Animals Asia

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Host Fianna MacGregor interviews Alice Ng, of Animals Asia, an advocacy group working toward the abolition of bile farming.

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You can find more information about the bile farms and Animals Asia's cat and dog rescues at

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Scroll Down to the bottom of the page for a bio of a couple of the sanctuary bears.

Oliver caged
Oliver Free

Jasper Before

Jasper After


Best Friends
Enclosure at the Sanctuary
Full Metal Jacket cast aside 

closeup of Full metal jacket in use
Interaction with other bears is essential to recovery

Cesar in Full Metal Jacket

Bears Bio
The individual bears living at Animals Asia’s Bear Rescue Centers in China and Vietnam have their own personalities, quirks, favorite foods, and preferred past-times. Some are happiest lounging in the sun, while others just want to play. Despite years of painful incarceration on bear bile farms, it doesn’t take long for freed bears’ bright and beautiful personalities to come shining through as they roam, romp, and forage. We’d like to introduce you to a few of the bears currently living at our two placid sanctuaries, having left painful lives of incarceration on bear bile farms behind them.

Known as a gentle peacemaker, happy and handsome moon bear Jasper is known to separate aggressive younger bears when their play gets too rough. Jasper has become somewhat of a “rock star” at our China Bear Rescue Center, with many fans among our supporters. Rescued from a Chinese bile farm in 2001, Jasper had spent years barely able to move, trapped in a “crush” cage with the top section pushed down and rusted in place on top of him. A loveable rascal, Jasper is now a healthy, strong bear who stands six feet tall. Those who take care of him find his capacity for forgiveness profound; amazingly, given the horrific treatment Jasper was subjected to for so many years, he now shows complete trust in his caretakers, even coming when he is called by humans.

Dream, a beautiful moon bear, arrived at our Vietnam Bear Rescue Center in December 2011 after having spent as many as eight years on a bear bile farm in the southern part of the country. Despite missing one front paw, and the other being severely deformed, Dream has had a strong recovery from her initial health challenges. She is now happily living in her own den at River House, where she takes pleasure in climbing up on the platforms to look out at the mountains. She also enjoys lounging in her very own hanging basket bed. Her new existence is a true testament to the bears’ ability to recover from years of excruciating farming, Dream now only has days of peace and freedom to look forward to.

When we first met Oliver he had lived thirty years, the entire natural lifespan of a bear, in a cage while being painfully farmed for his bile with the use of a metal jacket and catheter. Oliver, a brown bear, now happily spends his days meandering around his enclosure at Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Center, splashing in his much-loved rock pool, and foraging for food. There was a moment during Oliver’s rescue when we weren’t sure he would survive the trip home. On the four-day journey to the rescue center in Chengdu, he became seriously ill, requiring life-saving surgery on the bed of the truck that carried him. He came through with flying colors and lived to see his new life at the sanctuary. He no longer lives in terror, flattened to the bottom of a small cage. Today, Oliver strolls freely, enjoying his senior days in the sun while feeling the earth beneath his great bear paws.

One of the first sun bears to join our family was David, a big, gorgeous goof known for his relaxed and gentle personality. David arrived with us in September 2008. A true charmer, David was thought to have been smuggled from Laos, and had been confiscated earlier the same year in Nghe An province. David now shares a home with a group of other sun bears who all have access to an outdoor enclosure where they like to play together. He has grown into a very laid-back, friendly adult bear, who enjoys spending days playing with his companions and can always be relied upon to give newcomers a warm welcome.

Fianna MacGregor | Blog | Blog | Twitter | Email New York City Fianna has been vegan for 36 years. She is currently working on a second M.A. in Human Rights from NYU. When she isn’t veganizing every cookbook she can get her hands on, she’s working her urban farm in New York City. She also writes extensively on veganism, running and green living. Her newest project is to trace everything she buys to find out if it’s cruelty-free (both animal and human) and eco-friendly. Fianna and her fiancĂ© are animal rescuers of dogs, cats and birds.

Photo credit:Animals Asia and Jo-Anne McArthur

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