Three Swindon campaigners supporting the work to save moon bears have raised £6,500 for a new sanctuary in Vietnam.
Sarah and Dave Chilvers from Peatmoor, founders of the Animals Asia Foundation’s Swindon support group, and their friend Louise Wack completed a week long trek through the highlands and jungles of Vietnam in October, ending with a visit to the bear rescue centre.
There they renewed contact with charity founder Jill Robinson who works with the Chinese and Vietnamese government to close down bear farms.
“We’re extremely committed to helping Animals Asia stop the barbaric treatment of bears,” said Sarah. “Just before we arrived for the trek Vietnam’s Environmental Police raided a farm where employees were extracting and selling bear bile to Korean tourists. In September two Vietnamese undercover journalists exposed this one farm; it was catering for up to 40 bus loads of tourists every month.
“The bears are kept in tight cages with a catheter permanently inserted into the abdomen. The conditions they are kept in are terrible and the bears become infected and slowly die. We want to do all we can to help Animals Asia persuade governments that this cruelty must stop.
“Bear bile is not necessary in traditional medicines; natural alternatives have been found.”
Sarah, Dave and Louise trekked with twelve other Animal Asia supporters who raised £30,000 between them.
“It was a real bonding experience as we helped each other face our fears of spiders, heights, sleeping on the floor and filthy toilets along the way,” said Sarah. “Seeing the bears in their new home made it all worthwhile.
“The sanctuary has saved 28 bears, but there are hundreds in farms across Vietnam.”
Sarah and Dave got involved with AAF in 2006 after hearing Jill Robinson give a heart-rending talk about the plight of moon bears. The following year they organised a huge fundraiser at the Pagoda Palace attended by Jill, and recently organised a dog walk around Shaw Forest in September.
A charity curry night at the Bombay Lounge in late September raised £700.
Sarah hopes to have a Swindon AAF group web site available in December. In the meantime, to get involved, mail: email@example.com
Pictured: Louise, Dave and Sarah at the rescue centre