Unsung Heroes: Women In Conservation: Jill Robinson (Born May 5, 1958)

Unknown Photographer, earthfireinstitute.org

Source materials are here and here.

If you want to read more about the barbaric practice of bear bile harvesting (and the fact the Chinese think bear bile will cure Covid), please read this National Geographic article. Warning: there is a graphic image of an unconscious bear being drained of its bile in the middle of the article, but we can’t shy away from disturbing images if we want to know the truth about the damage being done to wildlife around the world.

Jill Robinson is the world’s leading authority on the bear bile industry in Southeast Asia and China; bear bile is used extensively in alternative medicine to treat everything from hangovers to cancer, and bear bile farming became the norm in the early 1980s as a way to protect wild bears from poaching. Ironically, because practitioners feel that wild bear bile is more potent than that harvested from captive bears, it did nothing to protect bears in the wild, and only subjected captive bears to more brutal treatment in the name of “medicine.”

Dr. Robinson first encountered this cruelty in south China in 1993 and in 1998 she founded AnimalsAsia to promote animal welfare and to bring about an end to bear bile harvesting. In 2000, she signed an agreement with China to set up a bear sanctuary, the first such agreement signed between the Chinese government and a foreign NGO (non-governmental organization). Nearly 30 years later, her work has made a dramatic impact on the lives of these abused creatures – over 600 bears have been rescued and rehabilitated, and there’s a movement to create another sanctuary in Vietnam in addition to the two now in existence in China.

As this fearless female’s story shows, all it truly takes to make a difference is having the courage to speak up when you witness a wrong, no matter how daunting the road to change may be.

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