A British woman, Jill Robinson, who had previously run a ‘Dr. Dog’ animal therapy service established this foundation in Hong Kong in 1998. It’s main activity to date has been a campaign to end bear farming in China, and for synthetic and plant products to replace the bear bile that is currently used in some traditional Chinese medicines.
In 2000, Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) signed an agreement with the Chinese government regarding the protection of Moon Bears (月熊). According to this, there would be a progressive reduction of bear farming, starting with those where conditions were worst. At present, we have around 250 rescued bears at our sanctuaries in China and Vietnam and over the years, we’ve rescued a total of 350 bears. In China, we’re working with conservation leaders in Beijing as well as forestry leaders in individual provinces to close down farms and make whole provinces bear-farm free. So far, we’ve closed down 43 Chinese farms and seen 20 of mainland China’s 31 provinces become proudly bear farm-free. We also work to reduce the demand for bile in Asia by promoting affordable, effective and cruelty-free alternatives.
Working with the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Sichuan Forestry Department, AAF is providing veterinary care, including surgery where necessary, for the bears in facilities that are shut down. The bears are then released into rehabilitation centers or bamboo forest zones in a large natural sanctuary.
Under our pioneering Dr. Dog programme more than 250 registered therapy dogs and their guardians volunteer in 10 Asian cities, spreading their special brand of comfort and love to those in need in hospitals, orphanages, schools and centres for the disabled. We feel these dogs are the perfect ambassadors for their species (as well as for cats) and hope that eventually people will grow to love all animals through their love of these companion animals.
AFF also lobby’s government departments at all levels for long-term comprehensive changes to legislation on China animal-protection laws as well as to bring about positive changes today. In October 2010, shortly after we intensified our almost 20-year campaign to end cruel performances in zoos and safari parks in China, the ministry responsible for zoos issued a directive country-wide ordering the end of animal performances and improvements to the living conditions of animals in zoos on a number of levels.