Recovery, Trust, Forgiveness and Hope
One issue that touched student’s hearts is the plight of moon bears who are used in the bear bile industry in China and Vietnam. In this horrific industry, bears are kept in tiny cages to harvest bile out of their gall bladders for Traditional Chinese Medicine. With the help of an organization called Animals Asia, these bears have hope. During rehabilitation, the bears come to trust their human saviors and feel safe in their company.
Jasper’s story is a wonderful example of a bear who was tortured and abused. He spent 15 years in a cage in which he could only move his head and neck, with a catheter stuck in his gallbladder from which bile was extracted. He recovered and became the peacemaker. He broke up fights among other bears, never missed a photo op, and became mark’s best friend. Mark and Jill Robinson, founder and CEO of Animals Asia wrote a children’s book about life called “Jasper’s Story". Michael was inspired by Jasper’s story and was thrilled to have the opportunity to draw this magnificent creature.
Oscar, Jasper, and BeaRtrice
In 2017, Kyle drew a few of these beautiful animals. This particular piece shows Jasper, who passed away not long after he took on this project. Also in that drawing was Oscar and BeaRtrice, whom Marc named after his parents. He was happy to share Kyle’s art with Animals Asia and many throughout the world. Since then, Kyle has had an opportunity to share his art with Jane Goodall, which he calls “one of the most fulfilling moments of the last three years.”
As Kyle learned about the horrific lives of these Moon Bears and heard stories about their rehabilitation and recovery, he gained hope for his own life. Moon Bears became his spirit animal.
In a published essay, he wrote,
“I came to know that regardless of how some of these bears are treated in captivity, even they have a place in the world. I, too, have spent much of my life in captivity and confinement. I have done a lot of damage in this world, but deep within, I have known all along that I have a place and it is my calling to be a part of something that is bigger than just me.”