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...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Franzi's story

Every bear at the AAF Sanctuary in Chengdu, China, has a heart-rending and tragic tale to tell, and each one deserves to be told. However, today I thought I would tell you just one – the story of ‘Franzi’ who sadly passed away late last year. I confess I have borrowed heavily from Jill Robinson’s own blog, but only in an attempt to do the story justice as her description of Franzi is so eloquent, and the love and respect felt for this little bear shines through.

Franzi was rescued in December 2002 and brought to the sanctuary in Chengdu. She was the tiniest bear cringing in the corner of the smallest cage the staff had ever seen. Franzi had given up all hope – and small wonder.
Cruelly declawed and de-toothed, a large abscess under her chin, and a hole in her abdomen pouring with bile and pus, Franzi was a victim of the bear farm industry, milked daily for her bile. Here too, in all her glory, was the most perfect and tragic example of an animal with “stress dwarfism”; possessing a “normal” bear-shaped head, but a crudely stunted body, she was a shell of an animal who had been squashed and trapped in a cage for 25 years of her life.

She wouldn’t make eye contact at all, but stared at the bottom of her cage, her chest rising and falling as she breathed great gulps of fear in anticipation of who would hurt her next. Suddenly her nose quivered and her head turned towards Jill Robinson, as she caught the smell of something never before experienced, but just too tempting to ignore. Here was a fruity shake with strawberries, apples, mangos, condensed milk and jam, just in front of her nose – and, even more astonishingly, it was all for her. Gingerly poking out her soft, pink tongue, Franzi took her first taste – and there was no going back as she closed her eyes and slurped, and slurped, and slurped. As she got to the bottom of the pot Jill poured the rest onto her fingers and felt the softness of her velvety lips as she gently sucked the remainder of the best drink of her life.

From there it was all on her terms. Her love of grapes saw her spitting out the skin and pips in contempt until she had taught staff that they were never to be offered again without peeling and de-seeding them first. Then, standing firm when staff nervously tried a variety of “proper” bear food until once again they relented and offered her exactly what she was holding out for – her favourite sachets of dog food with gravy.

In January 2003, a short time after she arrived, she continued to worry everyone with her bouts of ill health and refusal to eat. A particular worry was her constant respiratory effort and associated lung problems. It “didn’t look good”.

Seven years later, and in her normal style of ignoring all sound veterinary science and advice, Franzi happily tottered on, enjoying her life and deciding for herself exactly when it is time to go. And, when staff weren’t worrying about her, Franzi always made them laugh. Politely described as a “windy” bear, she would burp and fart with abandon – usually when she was being shown her off to a very large group of visitors; timing it just right as they stood respectfully around her den, listening to the poignant story of this very special bear with a sad and tragic past. How could they be serious when she let rip with all the smugness of an elderly Aunt!

This rather choosy female who had hated the presence of all other bears in “her” space, finally became attracted to the brain-damaged Rupert – and the most unique and loving friendship was born. They adored each other – Franzi weighing a paltry 60kgs and literally dwarfed by a bear three times her size, but who was dominated by her from beginning to end. She would flirt and flounce in spring and then walk away when he appeared interested – leaving him to cosy up to a bag full of straw.

Eventually though, and even with constant medication and veterinary care, her abdomen became unnaturally distended and uncomfortable because her heart and lungs were struggling to cope. With 6 litres of fluid drained only a few weeks earlier it became clear that the treatment could not continue and her quality of life told staff that it was time for her to go.
With indescribable sadness, Jill offered this brave little bear her last supper. Adopting her perfect pose of sitting up at the den bars, she began her small meal with a taster of rich beef and gravy dog food, followed by a piece of mince tart. The latter in recognition that a) she wouldn’t see Christmas and b) in recognition of the “hot little tart” she had been christened, by Steve Irwin (rest in peace).

So, sleeping under anaesthetic in her final health check, blissfully unaware that her special care area was as full as it could be, her ‘family’ gathered around her to say goodbye.
No bear since Andrew, the very first rescued bear, has commanded so much respect from staff across the sanctuary who crowded in to hold her paws and say a respectful, tearful farewell – and from staff across the world who remember her only with love.

This is what Moon Bear rescue is all about. This is why help is so needed.

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