After five visits and around 18 months' volunteering, Port Macquarie's Anne Ditton's desire to help free caged bears in two countries has not waned.
Her 20-year journey started in 2000 culminating with her first visit to China six years later.
Anne will host a fundraiser for Animals Asia in September and says she wants to spread the message to help free more bears.
"A friend of mine saw a show about bears and the horrific conditions these beautiful creatures endured," she said.
"I've always been an animal lover. So I started donating money and helping organise fundraisers.
"In 2006 I won a competition to name a bear and got to travel to China to meet that bear."
Following that visit, Anne sponsored several other bears and also started volunteering in one of three sanctuaries set up by the Animals Asia organisation.
Bears are farmed in China and Vietnam to extract bile which is used in traditional Chinese medicines.
Farming of bears is legal in China but the authorities have opted not to issue any new licences.
Bile farming ended in Vietnam since 2017 and all caged bears have to be moved to rescue centres by 2022.
There are an estimated 1200 bears still imprisoned. In China an estimated 10,000 bears are still kept in cages.
China and Vietnam authorities negotiate with Animals Asia to relocate bears into one of three sanctuaries currently set up.
"Many of these farms are mum and dad operations and the cages are so small that many bears can't even turnaround," Anne said.
"They are kept in horrendous conditions.
"Oliver is a brown bear and was caged for 30 years. He was forced to permanently wear a full metal jacket where the bile was farmed for use.
"Some of the methods for extracting the bile are not hygienic either.
"There are modern replacements available to replace the bile, so the farming practice is now outdated," she said.
Many of the caged bears suffer from terrible infections, particularly around the gall bladder area, broken teeth, or have claws growing into their paws.
Anne is hosting a trivia night for Animals Asia at Sunset Gallery on Central Road, Port Macquarie on Saturday September 21.
The event kicks off at 6pm and costs $10 per person with tables of eight. The night is BYO with coffee, tea and a light supper available.
For more information contact Anne Ditton via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call into the Sunset Gallery.
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