TEDxPearlRiver – Jill Robinson – Welfare of Animals

TEDxPearlRiver – Jill Robinson – Welfare of Animals


Translator: David Hsu
Reviewer: Denise RQ Hi. Good morning everybody. Thank you for the introduction; never in my wildest dreams
would I ever have believed when I first walked
onto this bear farm in 1993, that I would eventually see
bear rescue centers in both China and Vietnam, and the ultimate rescue
of nearly 350 bears during the years. I knew nothing about the practice
of bear farming. I certainly knew nothing about this amazing species
of Asiatic black bears, or moon bears, because of the beautiful,
yellow crescent on their chests. I joined a group of Japanese
and Taiwanese tourists and walked onto this farm, broke away from the group,
found some steps into a basement, and I came across my own personal hell. I’ll talk to you about
some of the injuries later on, but as I was walking around this farm, just so shocked and horrified
by what I was seeing in front of my eyes, suddenly, I felt something
touch my shoulder, I turned around, and there was
this female moon bear with her paw stretched
through the bars of the cage. At that point, I just lost all sense, and something compelled me
to take her paw. I would never do this today,
even with our most trustworthy bears, but as I say, I took it,
and this bear didn’t hurt me, she just gently squeezed my fingers. At that point,
a message passed between us, and it changed
the whole course of my life. Today I know what bear farming means. It means the incarceration
of 7,000 -10,000 bears in China, it means the incarceration
of about 4,000 bears in Vietnam, all for use in the traditional
Asian medicine discipline. It means various methods
of bile extraction, still practiced today, such as latex catheters
implanted into the gallbladders and into the abdomens of these bears, or rusting metal tubes,
again, implanted into their abdomens. Or the new method of bile extraction
simply called the free drip method, because it’s a hole
that’s carved into the abdomen and carved into the gallbladder
of these pitiful bears, so that bile can freely drip out. As you can see,
pus is freely dripping out as well; it doesn’t take a ten-year-old child
to work out the pathology here. When the hole tries to heal, obviously, the farmers are now
circumventing regulations and they are putting
a little perspex catheter into that hole to keep it permanently patent. Bear farming means bears like Kiki arriving in tiny, white cages
to our rescue center, as they do. This was part of a rescue
that we did in 2008, where we received 28 bears
in disgusting conditions. Kiki, as I say, had been in this cage
probably for decades, and we knew that he was
absolutely terrified. First of all, actually,
we knew that he was dehydrated, so we had to rehydrate him
and encourage him to drink. We gave him some orange juice,
and although he was desperately thirsty, we saw that whenever he tried
to lick the orange juice, he would scratch manically at his face. We didn’t really know
what was wrong at that time, but we were looking at the eyes
that were absolutely terrified, and when we got him out of the cage then we saw those same terrified eyes
were full of pus, and Kiki was blind. Then we saw his mouth, and we saw that every single tooth
in his head was totally shattered from a jaw that was
also completely broken; that was why Kiki was in so much pain
drinking that orange juice we gave him. We also saw infected wounds
all over his body, and when we finally got him
on the surgery table, our vet team were thinking how on earth
we would mend this broken bear. Kiki made the decision for us,
and he died on the surgery table. The next bear we got in that same group
was a bear that we call Chengdu Truth, and he was a skeletal animal
weighing about 65 kilograms, when a healthy adult male
would weigh double that. We got him out of the cage, and we saw a bear that hadn’t stood
on solid ground for years and years, because of those dry and cracked paws, and you could see the cage indentations
through the paws there. Then we saw he had awful puncture marks
in both shoulders, infected, and we thought,
“What’s been going on here?” We finally realized that the bear farmer
had known his bear was dying, and in order to keep this bear alive
for a few more weeks and extract his bile, he was actually injecting him
in the muscles of both shoulders with inappropriate antibiotics
and unsterile needles, and that’s why both shoulders
were so badly infected. Once again, when we got this bear
on the surgery table we found a tumor, a liver cancer seven kilograms in weight,
ten percent of his body weight, and we knew again there was nothing
we could do for this bear except give him the dignity
of humane euthanasia. That’s the point when our staff
just lose it, all of us. It’s a horrible, horrible time. We’ve rescued 277 bears in China,
69 bears in Vietnam, and I think this whole process
has allowed us to grow over the years, certainly professionally
and absolutely personally as well. (Applause) We’ve seen more than anyone
has the right to see, I promise you that, but when these bears die, we get people writing
from all over the world, saying things like this,
which is the most beautiful thing – as a mark of respect –
from Andrew, who said, “You’re not weaker without him,
but stronger because of him.” And we are. Our staff – basically, what we’re trying
to encourage in China and Vietnam is a revolution for animal welfare, and the revolution is happening because of amazing people
like Toby and Rainbow in this picture. Of those 28 bears that came in,
over the course of three days, 11 died. Again, it’s such a horrible time. Toby and Rainbow asked
to please just put these bears on grass, even though they’ve died, so that we’re giving them the respect
they never had on the farms. So at least they’ve got
the sun on their backs before we bury them underground. Sorry. Our staff, our bear workers,
are just so fantastic. When the bears die,
they put flowers on the graves, they make garlands for their heads, and they give those bears the dignity
that they never, never had on the farms. Workers like John there,
you can see what he says. He says, “Before I came here, I ate dogs,
and I felt any animal could be eaten.” Then he says,”After working here
for a few days, dogs are my friends, and I think friends
would never eat each other.” The same with Ding, she’s talking about the practicalities
of desexing your dogs and cats. When we’d be hard-pressed
in the West to find– a huge amount of people is always saying
that desexing is a good thing not realizing that breeding is not something
that should be done routinely everywhere. We shouldn’t be perpetually breeding
our dogs and cats, because it means overburdened shelters, and it means dogs dead
in plastic bags as a result of that. So these are the leaders, this revolution is hitting China
like never before. Twenty five years ago, I never would have believed
I would hear the words ‘animal welfare.’ It didn’t exist in those days. There was only one animal welfare group,
and now there are over 50. I would never have believed I would see
people locking themselves in cages, PETA-style. I never thought I’d see Buddhist monks
coming along to our sanctuary, as they did this April, not to pay respects to us,
the team of Animals Asia, but to pay their respects to the bears. They then said, at the end of their trip, that the people responsible for this death
and destruction would simply rot in hell. I said to them, “I didn’t think
you could even say things like that.” (Laughter) I didn’t think that I’d see
this burning in the street. This is when we got 33 medicine shops to give up their bear bile products
and give them to us, so we could set them alight in the streets
of Chengdu, communist China. When the police came along
to see what the fuss was about, I was thinking,
“We’re in a bit of trouble here.” As soon as they realized the work we did,
they just gave us the thumbs up, said, “We know what you do,”
got in their cars and drove off. So this revolution
is absolutely hitting China today. The doctors that we work with
are absolutely phenomenal, they hate bear farming
because as they say, “How can the death and disease
of the bears be in harmony with nature?” which is what Chinese medicine dictates. Especially, again, when you see
such pathology here, those gaping, infected holes, and especially when you see
gallbladders like this. One hundred percent of the gallbladders
we remove are looking like this; diseased with foreign bodies, pus, urine, feces, cancer cells,
bacteria, you name it. Livers that are just
so overwhelmed with cancer, there’s not one healthy bit of liver there
that you can see in that picture. The doctors in China and Vietnam
who are joining us now, because they are so worried
about human health, and talking to us now, whistle-blowing, and saying they know that people have died
after drinking contaminated bile, like this gentleman here. They’re taking it for kidney disease
and getting renal failure; taking it for hangovers
and healthy tonics, and they’re getting liver cancer. They’re taking it as an aphrodisiac,
and they’re becoming impotent. They’re taking it as cancer cures; would they take it if they knew 35% of our bears
are dying of liver cancer? Especially galling, excuse the pun,
is its use in non-essential products, like teas, tonics, wines, toothpaste,
even face masks, and face creams. Yes, ladies, you can put pus,
and feces, and urine on your face, but will it cure your cancer? No, I don’t think it will. It’s not just a welfare issue;
it’s a conservation issue too. Thirty percent of our bears arrive
having been illegally tracked in the wild and caught in leg hold traps,
missing a limb, and Freedom on the right there
is missing both of her front paws from being double caught,
illegally, in the wild. So all these components are adding up – obviously it’s a conservation issue;
Appendix 1 Endangered Species, vast amounts of bile
are being smuggled out illegally. It’s obviously a health
and welfare issue for the bears, and now we know it’s a health
and welfare issue for people that are dying after drinking
such contaminated bile. So we go on. We have to keep pushing and pushing
until we win this campaign, and we win it through bears like this. This is a gorgeous bear called Oliver, who was part of ten bears that we rescued
in Shandong in April of this year. Straight away, we saw Oliver,
and we were so worried about him, as the bear farmer said he had kept Oliver
caged for ten years of his life, and then he said the farm
he had taken Oliver from had kept him in a cage
for 20 years of his life. So Oliver had been incarcerated
for 30 long years of his life. We could see that he had
a normal bear-size head and body, but his legs were very, very stunted. We also heard from the farmer
that just hours before we arrived, the farmer had realized
that he had these metal jackets, which were against Chinese regulations; they were holding latex catheters in place
in the gallbladders and abdomens. So what he did was just rip them off
the bodies before we got there, so these bears were in so much pain
and dying in front of our eyes. Bears like Kylie, you can see her leaning
on her elbows and on her knees, because she couldn’t actually put weight
on her body, she was in so much pain. Heather and Monica, there,
looked at Oliver, as we were on the road
going back to our sanctuary, and they just said, “He’s dying,
we need to do something.” We had to find a hospital, someone that’s going to help us
in the middle of rural Chengdu. What on earth do you do
when you are in that situation? You find Rainbow,
one of your Chinese staff, you get them to talk to the local police, and within seconds, we were following
a convoy of police cars on the way to the local hospital, who were waiting for us
in their coats, with oxygen cylinders, with the equipment that we needed
to perform surgery in the back of a truck in the middle of freezing cold weather; four long hours until they finally removed
the gallbladder from Oliver’s abdomen. Then we just had to cross our fingers and hope that he made it
on the long journey home back to China. So, did Oliver make it? You bet Oliver made it. This so stoic, gorgeous bear. Just as soon as he was released, as soon as he was released
back into his cage he trashed it, totally. He just loved China,
looking at this picture there as well, just grinning as wide as he can grin
after wrecking the whole day, and being released out onto grass
for the first time in his life – an amazing experience, All these bears, we give them
five-star treatment at our sanctuary, they have Olympic-size
swimming pools, well nearly, they have ridiculous paddling pools
that BJ and Emma, our big bears have, they have browse
they can find in their tires in enrichment programs every day; or Banjo there
who’s still looking for his. (Laughter) We have blind bears like Snoopy, that got her sight back
after five long years of being blind after arriving from the farm. We have gorgeous peacemakers like Jasper, who welcomes new bears in,
he disrupts the odd disagreement, he’s just an amazing bear, and even more amazing, because this was Jasper’s life
for 15 long years in a crush cage, flattened to the bottom of those bars,
and now outside today, enjoying the most incredible life
in the great outdoors. After the trials and tribulations
of a long working week, he’s in his favorite place,
in his very own hammock in our bear house. And tree parties,
they have tree parties every day. They’re not supposed to be destroying
these trees; but my goodness, they do. Before you know it, they’ve unraveled
the string and the bamboo protectors; the whole thing comes down,
and they’re up there destroying the browse and throwing bits down
to their friends below. It goes on and on and on. This is a three-legged bear as well, so disability is no problem
for these bears, it’s not like we can stop them. We just let them have the best time
destroying our very precious trees. Banjo, looking very innocent there before,
guess what, of course, he destroys it. Even teeny, tiny cubs like Maggie,
at the top of the tree there. This was how Maggie came in, a tiny cub, two kilograms in weight,
two months of age, a delinquent of a bear, and yet, out there,
enjoying the great outdoors. I don’t know how long Oliver has,
I don’t think he’ll ever climb a tree, but he’s teaching us so much; he’s changing hearts and minds
across China and across the world, just proving that these bears
can come through the most horrible, physical
and psychological trauma. So when you’re in your beds tonight,
and you’re stretching, never forget there are
thousands of bears out there like Oliver, and like Chengdu Truth, who can’t stretch,
because they’re constricted by bars. Please, please help us
in our journey of a thousand miles, in our revolution
for animal welfare in China, and stay with us,
until the very last bear farm is closed. Thank you. (Applause)

36 thoughts on “TEDxPearlRiver – Jill Robinson – Welfare of Animals

  1. poor poor bears… and such great and beautiful person of Jill!
    i don't know how human can do such a cruel thing to another living beings – a gastric patient will know how much of a horrible pain by just a tiny little hole in the stomach… I cannot imagine the pain that all these bears sufferred… the pain is so great that even the bear will commited to suicide but the human who just want the bear bail set a metal plate around the bear waist to prevent them commited to suicide…

  2. @syri0

    It's horrible but im sorta inclined to agree. Being tortured for decades would fuck up a normal person forever , and these bears are probably still in mental anguish..it would be better concentrating the money on shutting down those hellish farms

  3. @syri0 do you see how happy those bears are in the sanctuary. They get to experience what it's truly like to be a bear. Although the funding could go to shutting farms down, having those bears in the sancutary because they promote the awareness and the consumers of the bile will realize how much pain they were causing to the bears.

  4. @samueltouchdown1 I don't think I would do that to bears that are running around and enjoying life any more than to people who carry on a dignified life as Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl who escaped after 8 years of incarceration and torture is doing. If there is lack of fund to shut down these farms, just raise it.

  5. Jill Robinson, I follow Animals Asia on facebook and I have just shared this. I love you so much sister. Massive blessings on the bears, you, and everyone who helps you. SOLIDARITY

  6. Keep up the great work Jill – its awesome. And for all the people who say 'don't give a fuck' about the animals, well what about all the humans who misguidedly drink bear bile juice with all the pus, cancer cells and other nasties in it. They get ill and die from this trade – so think on! This isn't just for animals welfare, its also for human welfare.

  7. Extremely moving presentation, this lady is deserving of support…yet look at the mindless comment of Dimak666 below…so sad when people are so gratuitously repugnant, and it reminds us that some minds are either incapable of understanding or will forever remain closed.

  8. Thank you so much for this video, Jill you are a wonderful feeling person, we all look up to you, and thank you for your efforts to remove those splendid examples of gods work, out of suffering and agony.

    GOd bless you jill and all you do in the name of mercy.

    GOd, Jesus before us, and in the wake of their mercy, we stand tall in continuing the legacy :))

  9. Apart from the abominable cruelty it's completely unnecessary as bear bile has no medicinal value whatsover. These 'traditional 'medicines' so often use animals for spurious treatments not just bears but tigers and sea-horses and many many more. How can we call ourselves civilised until we stop all this abuse from one species that is just smart enough to be dangerous to almost all others on this planet? Thank you for starting the ball rolling.

  10. Very important life calling for Jill. I can hear the urgency in her voice, each bear deserves to be free this moment and until each and every bear is safe and secure, and bear bile farming globally is history I know Jill will not rest.    I respect and admire her dedication.

  11. Jill is a role model for all of us, as a dedicated advocated for those, the bears whom cannot speak for themselves.  I hope there is not one bear in a bear farm in the very near future, ie tommorrow!    I must admit I sustenance hunt, other wise largely vegetarian as do not support the way animals are treated in factory farms.  A vegetarian diet is healthier than a meat centered one anyways.  I hunt about one deer a year.  But likely will become full vegetarian.    

  12. How disappointing that 4 years later there are less than 10,000 views.  I hope this changes soon.  Great work this woman is doing.

  13. Thank you, Jill Robinson, for spreading awareness on this. And thank you, TEDx, for providing a platform for her to convey her message.

  14. What is done to the moonbears is so cruel , Jill, thank you so much for taking care….you are full of compassion, I support you and wish your mission to succeed, grow and bloom. Be blessed. You have to be so strong, I really adore and appreciate your work
    and you are an inspiration to me – and I am sure – to many other people, who are aware, that we unterrate the intelligence and caregiving love that animals are able. We don´t have the right to dominate living beings. We could learn so much from them.

  15. This woman is saint! She and her team do the miracle. Please support Animals Asia in their mission to save these beautiful bears and keep fighting till all the cages are empty!

  16. I really think that there are entities living on this Earth that look like humans but are not human, and are actually soulless. No real human being could [conscientiously] do such a horrible crime to another sentient being.
    Imagine the sheer horror of being cramped into a cage, unable to move, while having your bodily fluids drained from you. Anyone doing that is psychotic and inhumane.

  17. You are a saint Jill. What you have done and continue to do for these beautiful animals is incredible. This is one of the worst atrocities on out planet.

  18. Jill Robinson is an Angel. I always remember her when helping local birds and animals here nearby. That there are people who have sacrificed their whole lives to take care of innocent animal beings… like Jill Robinson has done. Compared to that my involvement is like nothing, but I do my little share and I think the local birds &co. like it.

     I remember and revere work of her till the end of my life. Jill Robinson, thank you!!!!!!

  19. What an inspiring life. I've been watching the Animals Asia videos and am very impressed with all the hard work they do in these sanctuaries.

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