China Bear Sanctuaries Struggle For Supplies Amid Coronavirus Epidemic

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As the world continues its battle against the novel coronavirus, now named Covid-19, animal sanctuaries in China are struggling to maintain crucial supplies and resources to help some of the most vulnerable and endangered species. Hong Kong-based animal welfare charity Animals Asia’s bear sanctuary in Sichuan – right next to the epicentre of the outbreak Hubei province – is now in urgent need of your help to get enough veterinary supplies to stay afloat. With continued uncertainty about how long the impact of the coronavirus outbreak will last, every little bit of support matters and will help Animals Asia continue their vital work rescuing and saving threatened bear species from the inhumane bile trade

As of press time, the outbreak of Covid-19 has already infected almost 60,000 people across the world, and the death toll stands at over 1,300. While the disease has clearly impacted human lives as the world struggles to battle its spread, there have too been devastating repercussions on organisations leading crucial conservation efforts in China. 

Read our earlier coverage of Covid-19 and tips on prevention here.

Founded in Hong Kong, Animals Asia is an animal welfare charity running multiple bear sanctuaries across Asia, including one in Chengdu, Sichuan – next to Hubei province where the virus originated. The Chengdu sanctuary houses 250 bears in 11 houses and 15 natural and semi-natural enclosures, and has a fully-equipped veterinary centre dedicated to rescue and rehabilitation of bears. Moon bears, sun bears and brown bears have suffered from the cruel bile trade, where they are held in captivity on farms to have bile extracted from their gall bladders on a regular basis for profit in the traditional Asian medicine market

Moon bear Jasper when he was found and rescued from 15 years of captivity by Animals Asia (Source: Animals Asia)

With cities and transport links across China coming to a virtual standstill in an effort to contain the coronavirus, the sanctuary’s supplies and resources have dwindled to vulnerable levels. Like millions across China, the staff and volunteers at the sanctuary are struggling to keep up with high prices and shortages of food, water and medical supplies such as face masks, disinfectant soap, surgical gloves and crucial medication for the bears

While Animals Asia has already begun sending in basic vet equipment from abroad to maintain the safety of the bears and on-site staff, the steep prices will mean increasingly difficult and dangerous conditions to continue their operations. 

In an impassioned letter, founder and CEO of Animals Asia Jill Robinson is pleading for your help to donate to the Crisis Action Fund to help support their impactful work in Chengdu. “The implications for the bears, and other animals who rely on us for help, are truly frightening…The truth is that without you, we’re simply not going to get through this,” Robinson said. 

Bears at one of Animal Asia’s bear sanctuaries (Source: Animals Asia)

Without the efforts of animal charities such as Animals Asia in China, which not only saves bears but promotes public education and awareness to end the inhumane trade, the outlook for the bear species is looking incredibly bleak. The world is suffering from a public health epidemic, climate crisis and wildlife extinction, and any efforts we contribute to help combat these pressing global issues will make a difference. 

Please consider helping Animals Asia by donating to their Crisis Action Fund to keep their China Bear Sanctuary alive. Every contribution, no matter how small, will support their crucial conservation work. 

Lead image courtesy of Animals Asia.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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