China's first black bear rescue center opened in Chengdu Monday,
providing a new home for 84 black bears.
Nearly 100 Chinese and foreign animal protection experts and
journalists Monday braved the heaviest fog this winter in the
capital of southwest China's
Sichuan Province to launch the center.
The rescue center is a symbol of the success of the biggest Black
Bear Rescue Program in the world.
was initiated by Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), a non-government
charitable foundation in Hong Kong, China Wildlife Conservation
Association (CWCA) and Sichuan Forestry Department (SFD).
Chen Runsheng, secretary general of the CWCA, said that while it
would take a long time to end bear farming, the establishment of
the center showed that the Chinese Government would work with AAF
to stop the practice in China.
The Black Bear Rescue Program began in July 2000 when AAF, CWCA and
SFD signed an agreement to rescue 500 bears from the worst bear
farms in Sichuan and work together to end bear farming in China. It
was the first agreement signed between a Chinese governmental
department and an overseas animal welfare group. Since October
2000, 34 farms have been closed and almost 100 bears released in
After two years of work by AAF and SFD, the rescue center opened in
Lonqiao Town in the suburbs of Chengdu. The center, occupying more
than 10 hectares, is divided into recovery and living areas, and
can accommodate 100 bears.
Jill Robinson, founder and chief executive of AAF, said that plans
were underway to source additional land for 400 more farmed bears
as part of the 2000 agreement. She hoped that more bears would be
rescued and that the center would be the focus of educational
programs for animal welfare in China.
The Asiatic Black Bears, known as Moon Bears because of the
beautiful golden crescents on their chests, are listed under the
most critical category by wildlife experts. It is estimated that
fewer than 15,000 black bears are left in the wild in China.
(China Daily December 17, 2002)