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Maria Daines: MUSIC


(Maria Daines/Paul Killington)
April 9, 2006

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Goodbye to Andrew


The sad news of Andrews passing...

Thursday, 9th February 2006

Tragically, February saw our beloved Andrew's last Spring. Taken from us by the ravages of liver cancer - a killer we know so well and believe is connected with the massive infection originating on the bear farms. No words can explain our grief, but Andrew's death has united us all with the determination that he will never die in vain. Our noble, forgiving, gentle giant who will live in our hearts forever.

For those of you who have shared our special moments with the bears over the years, I'm so sorry to pass on the sad, sad news that we said goodbye to our number one ambassador, three-legged Andrew, (Anderloo as he is named in Chinese), on Thursday, 9th February 2006.

Following a month of eating less and sleeping more, Andrew had a health check and ultrasound which revealed that something was horribly wrong. Our Vets, Kati and Phill, began abdominal surgery and found the most aggressive and ugly cancer I have ever seen in my life. The removed tumour, weighing 7.3kgs surpassed anything we have seen before and, because the liver was so terribly affected (with approximately 5% of its normal function remaining), Andrew's blood wasn't able to clot and he had been slowly bleeding to death.

Even on Wednesday, he ate more than he'd eaten the whole week before; those soft gentle lips pursing for another slice of tomato, a second tub of yogurt and a blueberry muffin, causing us to wonder for a second whether we were right to bring his surgery forward. So many variables are involved - and in the past we have felt surgery essential, only to find nothing medically wrong as the bears have entered a "normal" pattern of lethargic, inappetant behaviour associated with hibernation of the species in the wild.

Yet, it was the killer we know so well... liver cancer; possibly originating from a tumour factor of aggressive cells connected with the massive infection from damage caused on the farms - the demon that lurked silently in Andrew's body, waiting for the chance to strike.

No words can ever explain the grief everyone here is feeling - we cremated and buried our mighty Andrew at 6pm last evening, with local TV cameras and the San Francisco Chronicle recording another chapter in bear farming history - an outpouring of anger and sadness which is difficult to describe even now, but which united everyone here in the conviction and determination that Andrew will never die in vain.

I know too that this will be a horribly sad message for those of you who loved Andrew and enjoyed all the updates about his life over the past five and a half years. Andrew was so much more than our ambassador, our friend.... he was the bear who began it all; our noble, forgiving, gentle giant who will live in our hearts forever.

Someone has written: "You are not weaker without Andrew, you are stronger because of him." And we are.

R.I.P. Anderloo, we love you.

Jill Robinson MBE
Founder & CEO
Animals Asia Foundation

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Dear Maria & Paul,

Words can not express just how grateful we all are to you both for writing this beautiful song about our beloved Andrew. It was so very sad to lose our No 1 ambassador but the thousands of messages of support and now this wonderful (and very emotional) tribute to Andrew show us all that he certainly did not die in vain. His memory lives on with us all and once again strengthens our determination to end this barbaric suffering once and for all.

Andrew has and will continue to play his part in a unique journey and we thank you for playing your part in this journey too. Andrew’s memory will live on in the words of this song.

Best Wishes,

Dave Neale
UK Director
Animals Asia Foundation

Find out more about our historic China Bear Rescue and Friends or Food? projects by visiting the Animals Asia Foundation website at -


Your spirit lives in our hearts
Oh Andrew
They tried to take you all apart
Oh Andrew
Oh the darkness of man
Is a stain on all humanity
But still you make us smile
Your sweet memory...

Your lovely picture on our wall
Oh Andrew
And from you we hear the call
Oh Andrew
If we could we'd make it right
Oh Andrew
Still for you the peaceful fight
Oh Andrew...

Your spirit lives in us all
Oh Andrew
And from you we hear the call
Oh Andrew
Oh Andrew
Oh Andrew...

All rights reserved
(mcps) ASCAP
April 2006

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A day in the sun for moon bears

by Lisa Owens-Viani

In a bamboo forest along the Pi River, Jill Robinson holds out a finger

dipped in honey. The sun peeks through the canopy, illuminating a rusty

cage. Tentatively, a tongue reaches through the bars. "Andrew," an

Asiatic black bear, also known as a "moon bear" for the crescent of

plush golden fur around his neck, licks the sweet substance from

Robinson's finger. It is his first taste of kindness in 20 years.

At a recent talk in San Anselmo, California, Robinson, a petite,

soft-spoken British woman, and the director of Animals Asia Foundation

(AAF), the non-profit she founded in 1998, told the story of Andrew.

Andrew now lives at the Moon Bear Rescue Center in southeastern China, a

sanctuary run by AAF. Like most moon bears, Andrew stands six feet tall

on his hind legs. But he lived most of his twenty years on a "bear

farm," lying on his belly in a three-foot-wide by three-foot-high by

six-foot-long cage. In it, he could neither change positions nor have

free access to water.

Like many of the bears AAF has rescued, Andrew was snared in the wild as

a cub. One of his legs was mangled in a trap; the farmer probably

chopped off what remained. Immediately after he was captured, Andrew was

taken to a grim concrete room filled with rows of tiny elevated iron

cages containing other moon bears. In this room he underwent an

operation in which a seven-inch catheter was inserted into his

gallbladder. Then, from beneath his cage, the bear farmers would "milk"

bile from his gallbladder twice a day in a crude and painful procedure.

In addition to being confined in tiny cages, bears are sometimes further

immobilized in metal jackets, torso-squeezing devices like corsets, or

in "crush" cages to keep them from protesting during the milking. In

addition to the hundreds of bear farms operating in China, there are

many more in North and South Vietnam and Korea.

The products of bear farms are dry bile powder and Chinese medicines

used to treat ailments like high fevers, hemorrhoids, liver problems,

and sore eyes. The amount of bile powder obtained from one bear per year

from 365 days of torture is only about two kilograms, the size of a

small bag of rice. Although bear bile has been used for thousands of

years in traditional Chinese medicine, the practice of "bear farming" is

a relatively recent phenomenon. Traditionally, moon bears and other

bears were killed for their gallbladders. But in the early 1980s,

North Korean scientists figured out a way to obtain the desirable

products of this organ without killing the animal. By taking cubs from

the wild and extracting their bile while keeping them alive, they could

produce a continual flow of liquid gold. A few years later, China began

bear farming, the government encouraging the practice in a misguided

attempt to conserve the wild population. By the early 1990s, there were

almost 500 bear farms operating in China, containing over 10,000 bears.

Meanwhile, illegal poaching of wild bears continued; today, the Chinese

government estimates that less than 15,000 moon bears remain in the wild.

In 1993, things began to look up somewhat for moon bears in China when

Robinson, who had been working there as a consultant for the

International Fund for Animal Welfare for over a decade, was taken to a

bear farm.

"I broke away from the group watching the breeding bears outside in a

pit and found some steps leading downstairs into a basement," she

recalled. "As my eyes became accustomed to the darkness, I heard some

strange 'popping' vocalizations in the background. The closer I crept to

the noises, the louder and more frantic the sounds became. I realized

then with shame that the very first lesson I would learn from this

intelligent, endangered species was the lesson of fear, and that the

presence of a human being meant only pain to these animals. Caged,

declawed, and defanged, with metal catheters in their bellies, they had

become nothing more than machines."

Robinson wandered around the dark room, numb and in shock at the

medieval scene. What happened next would change her life.

"I felt something gently touch my shoulder," she explained. "I spun

around, coming face to face with a female bear who had stretched her paw

through the bars of her cage. Probably foolishly in retrospect, I took

her offered paw. Yet, rather than pulling my arm from its socket as she

had every right to do, this powerful bear simply squeezed my fingers,

and our eyes connected."

Robinson named the bear Hong ("bear" in Cantonese), and while she never

managed to save her, that moment was the beginning of Robinson's fight

to free all farmed bears. Headquartered in Hong Kong, AAF works on many

other animal- welfare related issues in Asia, such as live animal

markets. But its main focus these days is to end bear farming in China

by 2008. Robinson says the strategy behind this goal is to call

attention to the pride and status of China during Beijing's Olympic

Games while promoting the country as the leader in ending bear farming

in Asia. AAF is making progress. In July 2000, the China Wildlife

Conservation Association and the Sichuan Forestry Department signed an

agreement with AAF to free 500 bears in Sichuan Province and to work

toward eliminating all bear farms.

That agreement was the first ever to be signed between the Chinese

government and an outside animal welfare organization. Says Robinson,

"It became clear from the outset that neither the government nor its

people could be 'bullied' into reversing a practice which had been

started with obvious good intenthowever cruel and unrealistic it was

eventually found to be. We needed to find solutionsthe hardest task of

allbut ones that proved we could work sensitively with a foreign

culture." AAF is now working with the Chinese government to close bear

farms. When a farm is closed, the government turns its license over to

AAF, and the farmers are compensated and given assistance finding new

employment. Yet Robinson has a Herculean task ahead of her. Although the

government has promised not to issue any additional licenses, 7,000

bears remain on farms. To date, AAF has been able to rescue 130 bears.

Robinson hopes they will save another 100 this year.

AAF is also working to promote the use of the less expensive synthetic

and herbal alternatives to bear bile. The active ingredient in bear bile

is ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), but synthetic UDCA is now widely used,

especially in the West, primarily to break down gallstones. (Synthetic

UDCA is also being tested in the treatment of more serious problems such

as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and possibly Alzheimer's.)

Due to the availability of synthetic UDCA, there is now a surplus of

bear bile in Asia. This means that the bile from the tortured bears ends

up in luxury items like cosmetics and wine.

Says Professor Liu Zhen Cai, one of China's most respected traditional

medicine doctors, "Today, we have over 50 herbal alternatives and

synthetic medicines that have the same efficacy as bear bile. There is

no need for bears to suffer any longer." Dr. Andy Rader, a traditional

Chinese medicine practitioner in Marin County, California, echoes Zhen

Cai's opinion. "I don't use bear bile and I don't know of anyone who

does," says Rader. "The state acupuncture associations promote ethical

and environmentally sound use of Chinese medicines."

Bears continue to arrive at the Moon Bear Rescue Center in Chengdu,

often in deplorable condition. Moon bears are intelligent, curious

creatures who need lots of mental stimulation, says Robinson. Life in

such extreme captivity has caused some of them to bang their heads or

wear down their teeth on the cage bars, even to chew at their own legs

in frustration. Some of the bears weigh less than half what a healthy

bear should weigh. At least 30 percent of the wild-caught bears are

missing a limb or two. Some have had their canine teeth sawed off or the

tips of their paws cut off, to take away their defenses and make them

easier to "milk."

But as soon as the bears arrive at the center, their lives take a turn

for the better. They are immediately given a light shower of water

through their cage bars. Often severely dehydrated, the bears lap at the

water eagerly. Rescue center employees also offer them bowls of honey,

fruit, and other sweet treats. Once the bears are rehydrated and

sedated, an ultrasound exam is performed to help the vets determine the

bears' internal injuries. Often, the animals have tumors, mutilated

gallbladders, hernias, abscesses, or equipment left behind from previous

botched surgeries. Surgery is then performed to remove their catheters

and repair their wounds. Occasionally, a bear is so badly injured it

must be euthanized.

After the bears have recovered, several weeks or even months later

depending on their injuries, they can begin to live lives free of pain

and confinement. The bears cannot be released. Many lack limbs; most

never learned the skills they need to survive in the wild, having been

captured as cubs. But at the sanctuary they can socialize with other

bears, swim in a pool, climb into a bamboo basket, swing in a hammock,

follow a fruit and honey trail, or crawl through a tunnel. They are

given nutritious, tasty food for the first time: cereal, meat protein,

veggies, fruit, and rice. They especially enjoy eating giant "Popsicles"

one-foot-square blocks of ice containing chunks of fruit and

vegetables which keep them happily occupied for over an hour at a

time. For the first time in many of their lives, they have free access

to water.

Running a bear sanctuary isn't cheap. To rescue and provide medical care

for a bear for three years costs approximately $9,600. The 27-acre site,

which can hold no more than 350 bears, will cost $3 million to complete.

By comparison, the price tag for a small exhibit being planned for the

Hong Kong Botanic Gardens to display two jaguars will be almost $1

million; the new Rain Forest exhibit at the Bronx Zoo cost $43 million.

Monthly operating costs for the rescue center are approximately $57,000,

including staffing, bear food, enrichment activities, rent (AAF has a

twenty-year lease), veterinary supplies, repairs, transport,

communications, and office costs. Funded primarily through individual

donations from throughout the world, AAF's lowest donor base is also the

wealthiest: the US. Robinson thinks this may be because many Americans

find it hard to believe that something as barbaric as bear farming is

still taking place.

Robinson won't rest until she's done her best to help the 7,000 bears

that remain on farms. AAF is exploring the possibility of acquiring more

farmland surrounding the sanctuary, which would offer space for several

hundred more rescued bears. Although the sanctuary will not officially

open to the public until 2005, small private tours are currently given,

and AAF is building an educational center. Once it is open, visitors

will learn about the plight of the bears and alternatives to bear bile.

Some of the herbal replacements are being grown on site. Meanwhile, the

rescue center has provided local benefits: jobs for about 50 people at

the center itself, as well as at new shops that have started up nearby,

and for residents of the area who grow food for the center's bears and


Robinson realizes that she probably won't be able to save every moon

bear. Some will die before ever seeing the light of day. Others are so

weak they will perish on their journey to the center. She hopes that

bears like Hong did not die in vain but will continue to inspire the

battle to save living bears. "Each bear has a story to tell," says

Robinson. "We can learn from them and use them to bring bear farming to

an end."

At Robinson's talk in San Anselmo, one audience member wondered whether

it wouldn't be "more practical and cheaper" to euthanize all of the

farmed bears. Robinson's response? "These bears have been through hell

and back. The fact that they recover so surprisingly well, have a love

of life which is obvious to see, and actually forgive the species that

has caused them so much suffering, moves all of us deeply. I believe

they have earned their day in the sun."

Lisa Owens-Viani is an environmental writer living in the San Francisco

Bay Area. She is Senior Editor of Terrain magazine,

Reprinted with the very kind permission of Lisa Owens-Viani

Lisa Owens-Viani is an environmental writer living in the San Francisco

Bay Area. She is Senior Editor of Terrain magazine.