Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Thursday, 22 April 2010

A Eureka moment

Having a story published has been, I have to admit, quite a kick. However, I don’t consider myself a ‘proper writer’ yet –I’m nowhere near sufficiently dedicated or disciplined to feel worthy of saying “I’m a writer” – more a civil servant who writes occasionally.

And whilst I am delighted that my story has been successful, this whole experience has actually acted as a bit of a catalyst for me, regarding my hitherto held values and beliefs as far as animals are concerned. I’ve always considered myself to be an animal lover but, to be honest, I have never before questioned what this really means.

Yes, I have loved and cared for all of my ‘pets’ over the years and yes, I actively support a couple of animal charities and, of course, it goes without saying I would never harm, or allow to be harmed, any creature.
But here’s the thing; I’ve taken the kids to the Zoo and driven through Safari Parks many times, and I’ve been lucky enough to swim with dolphins and visit SeaWorld in Florida. I’ve got pictures of me and my family posing with monkeys and exotic birds. I’ve always enjoyed the experience.
Each time, though, I suppose I’ve ignored the little voice in my head and that ‘unsettled’ feeling which came with each visit. I guess I’ve been happy to accept it all in the name of conservation and education.
During my research for the story and since reading various articles and information produced by Born Free and Animals Asia, I’ve actually had a bit of an epiphany.

I’m not saying all zoos are bad, of course not, some are excellent, most are OK and some, sadly, less so. What I have come to realise is that no matter how good a zoo is, it’s still effectively a jail. Wild animals in captivity are not free to behave naturally as they would in their normal habitat; at best they are restricted, manipulated, bored, stressed, traumatised and exploited for our ‘pleasure’. Animal ‘attractions’ give us a few minutes pleasure and we kid ourselves that it’s educational or that we’re helping to preserve endangered species for future generations, and it’s easy to ignore the damage being done to the animals.

When I started writing Jia Ting, I knew precisely nothing about Moon Bears but my research led me on a journey of discovery. The more I learned, the more I came to care about, and respect, these beautiful, intelligent and majestic creatures. There are so many stories of rescued bears who, despite years of incarceration, abuse, mental cruelty and physical pain at the hands of bear farmers, are still prepared to trust, to accept and to give. In spite of what they have endured, they remain gentle, generous and forgiving. What remarkable and dignified animals they are.

Surely there can be no sane reason to trap wild bears in ways which are vicious beyond belief, and no justification for bear farming for their bile – or anything else - when many natural and synthetic alternatives exist and are equally effective in traditional Chinese medicine.

There can be no excuse for keeping bears in such horrendous tomb-cages and incarcerated them for years and there can be no defence of the brutal treatment, shameful cruelty and despicable neglect which these bears are constantly subjected to in the name of medicine.

This whole process has taught me so much and, in future, I will be more focussed on helping to keep animals free and wild and on preserving their natural habitat, rather than paying to see them in captivity. Like all wild animals, the Moon Bears deserve a better life, a free life, a wild existence and a safe and secure future.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Like you I never really let myself think about zoos and animal attractions but this experience has changed my view. Whatever a zoo claims the animal is still in prison and I'd rather not see it at all than see it exploited. I think we have all learned something valuable.
    Good post!

    Debz :)

  2. Very well said, Di, on behalf on a lot of us I imagine. We lead such complex, busy lives, I for one have been thinking things like, 'on top of everything else, I can't take the bears on'. Had a little weep over Franzi's story - so how can I not?