We had some very sad news from China last week, which most, if not all of you, will have heard or read already, but I wanted to share my own little tribute to Oliver Bear who passed away on 12 November with his friends at the sanctuary holding his paw.
I had the privilege of meeting this wonderful, forgiving, stoic and life loving bear in October 2011 when I did the Animals Asia China trek. After having been tortured for his bile for the first 30 years of his life he had every right to hate our species but he was so forgiving and just made the most of the freedom and love he found at Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre.
This is a short video of Oliver, taken after our lunch in the canteen. Oliver is just coming out of his den after his lunchtime siesta.
Following his rescue, together with 9 other bears, and his dramatic life saving surgery on the way home to the sanctuary, he inspired a movement as detailed in Animals Asia’s moving tribute to him.
Animals Asia’s Founder and CEO Jill Robinson also posted a very moving tribute to Oliver Bear today, which includes my favourite picture of him, sitting in his den laughing, so happy to be finally free and able to do whatever he wants.
Last year we showed “Cages of Shame”, featuring Oliver and the other bears rescued with him in April 2010, and raised over £4000 to help Animals Asia end bear bile farming. That’s just one of the many ways in which Oliver helped the move towards ending this horrific trade forever.
His spirit lives on and he will continue to inspire people everywhere.
Rest in Peace dearest Oliver Bear but also have fun with all the others you’ll meet xxxxx
Our screening of “Cages of Shame” on Wednesday was a huge success and a big thank you is due to all who helped with the organisation and on the day: Hilary, Seb, Babs, Kay, John and Chloe and of course the lovely, lovely Peter Egan who very kindly volunteered to be our auctioneer and helped us raise £1620 with the auction alone.
Richard Symonds donated a limited edition print of his beautiful Oliver Bear drawing which was won by actress Lesley Nicol of Downton Abbey fame for £500 (pictured below, photo credit: Richard Symonds) as well as his wonderful “Contemplation”.
As expected the film had everyone in tears, sad and happy tears. Supporter Sue Edwards summed it up perfectly on our Facebook page:
“Enjoyed meeting everyone again today ..Cages of Shame is fantastic. Yes of course it’s sad but you get to see from the inside how Animals Asia works. The terrible condition the bears are in when rescued. But you also see how the bears live now and the fantastic life Animals Asia has given them. Sad tears and Happy tears shed today.”
A big thank you also to fabulous Animals Asia friend and supporter Rula Lenska who is always there to support.
The “icing on the cake” was Jill of course – loved and adored by all. The film alone is superb and so very deserving of the award but to have Jill there to give us an update on the “New Year Rescue” bears and the situation in Vietnam and China in general made this event extra special.
We had a full house – full of very kind and generous supporters, old and new and just couldn’t have wished for a better day. Thank you to everyone who came and helped make this day as special as it was and of course to the Odeon Lounge for making this all possible in the first place by letting us use this amazing venue free of charge.
Rula Lenska, Lesley Nicol, Jill Robinson and Peter Egan with “Oliver Bear”