This is Jasper, happy as a lark in his hammock at the Animals Asia Foundation bear sanctuary in Chengdu, China.
You may recognize Jasper from the Living Free poster that's on the Ursa Freedom Project network, and here in the right column. You’re going to start seeing a lot of Jasper at UFP, now that Animals Asia has given us the great joy and privilege of letting him be our mascot. Jasper’s story is one of shocking disbelief and awe. As our mascot he sounds the clarion call to each and every one of us to pull together to end bile farming once and for all.
Jasper spent 15 years in this crush cage, literally pinned to the bars, before being rescued by Animals Asia. Barely large enough for his body, the cage was equipped with a crush bar that allowed the bile farmer to press Jasper to the bottom of the cage to make draining his bile easier. Upon arrival at Animals Asia, Jasper had to be cut from the coffin-sized crush cage that held him captive for 15 years.
From the moment he arrived at AAF, Jasper became everybody’s friend and had no time for horrible memories or revenge. It didn’t take long before he worked his way into the hearts of bears and people alike.
His rough and tumble play with best friends Banjo, Delaney, and Frank led to minor surgery on his mouth. While under anaesthesia the whole staff and volunteer crew lined up to stroke Jasper’s coarse black fur, laughing at his famous yellow eyebrows and admiring him for the thoroughly “nice” bear he is.
To keep the bears’ minds and bodies active, AAF hides food in tree cavities and balls, and ties fruit and vegetables onto tree limbs so the bears forage.
Here, Jasper forages for tomato strips in the forest. He also forages for honey and peanut butter (his favorite treat) inside a red ball that entertains him for hours. AAF doesn’t just rescue the bears from bile farms, they make sure their quality of life is as close to what it would be in the wild. Remember that Honey Money drive we had March 20? This is how you’re money was spent. We’ll be having another Honey Money drive as part of Earth Day, to give more bears like Jasper a new lease on life.
Looking at Jasper today, it’s hard to believe that when he was rescued, he was rake-thin and his fur was gone. His teeth were worn down from a stressful condition called bar biting, and he had a metal catheter implanted in his abdomen. Today, Jasper is fully recovered and has full strength and mental acuity. He has become AAF's poster child for new rescue missions, keeping us all mindful of the work we need to support.
Ursa Freedom Project will have ongoing progress reports on Jasper and his bear clan. Compiled from original text and photos from the Animals Asia website. Read more about bile farming.