Fund-raiser for Sichuan animals strikes serious note after quake

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2008, 12:00am

Although it was supposed to be a fun event to raise cash for Animals Asia Foundation's China Bear Rescue project on Tuesday night at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, founder Jill Robinson couldn't hide her concern about their moon bears sanctuary in Sichuan - also home to the famous Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve - following the earthquake on Monday.

'We have been seriously worried. The last 24 hours we were in absolute hell,' Robinson said during the auction called 11th Hour, as time is running out for the animals. She added she has been keeping hourly contact with her staff through the internet since telephones went down. 'The first hour was horrible. I couldn't get in touch with anybody. I heard about the quake over the headline news and I was horrified to see them talk about Chengdu and Dujiangyan , which is just down the road from [our office].'

Luckily, no staff were hurt, which was more a relief during the Tuesday fund-raiser than bidders willingly shelling out for things like framed paw prints.

Still, Robinson is not one to sit back and relax when there's a major mess left behind by a 7.8-magnitude quake.

'We have to move staff out and put them into temporary accommodation. I am flying myself out there first thing in the morning because there are so many concerns and worries. And it is going to be so expensive. I believe we will need millions of yuan to rebuild some of our buildings.'

It's not just the bears that need rescuing this time.