Jill Robinson is the founder of Animals Asia Foundation. Born and raised in England, Robinson was always interested in the welfare of animals. As a child she volunteered veterinary offices during her school holidays. In the mid-1980s she moved to Hong Kong, it was where she began working for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, focusing on work in China and South Korea.
In 1993, Robinson visited a bear bile farm in China. According to Robinson, at the time approximately 10,000 Asiatic black bears were caged at farms similar to this one, in conditions many animal welfare groups consider horrific. At the farms, bile is extracted from the bear's gallbladder for use in traditional Chinese medicines. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, only about 15,000–20,000 Asiatic black bears are alive in the wild in China, which would qualify them for the highest protection described by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Chinese authorities estimate that over 50,000 of the bears live in the wild, which would eliminate the necessity for higher protection.
Professor Peter Li believes that Robinson "single-handedly alerted the world" to the cruel practice of bear farming. For the next seven years, Robinson researched the way bile was used and negotiated with the Chinese government. In 2000, the Sichuan Forestry Department signed a pledge with the China Wildlife Conservation Association to release 500 bears from the bile farms with the worst conditions. This marked the first time an agency of the Chinese government had come to an official agreement with an animal welfare organization. To house the released bears, Robinson founded Animals Asia Foundation and established a bear rescue center in Chengdu. The foundation has since begun a similar sanctuary in Vietnam, where there are also thousands of bear bile farms...
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