A BANKER about to be made redundant is swapping Chingford for Chengdu as she leaves for China to help endangered bears.
Jane Bailes worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland until she was informed her job will be lost at the end of the year because of the banking crisis, but has seized the opportunity to fulfill her lifelong dream of helping animals.
The 47-year-old Chingford resident will fly out on January 3, just three days after leaving the bank, to volunteer as a vet nurse in China’s Chengdu bear sanctuary for three months.
The sanctuary provides a refuge for 186 moon bears (so called because of the golden crescent that lines their chests) who have been kept in cages from birth and milked for their bile, which is used in Chinese medicine to treat problems from hangovers to haemorrhoids.
Miss Bailes, who lives in Hawkdene, told the Guardian: “I’ve wanted to do something like this all my life. The fact I’ve been made redundant means I have the kick up the bum I need.
“When I found out about the bears in Asia I broke down. They’re in such pain and misery for so long, it’s so tragic.”
The caged bears have their bile removed with rusty catheters implanted deep in their gall bladders or via open, infected abdomen wounds. They often die of liver cancer as a result and have their teeth and claws removed by the farmers despite the fact that bile can be replaced by herbs for medicines.
Charity Animals Asia is working with the Chinese government to close down these farms, and Miss Bailes will feed and perform health checks on the bears, who spend their days playing and relaxing.
Bile can be replaced by herbal medicine, while because of the bears’ poor health it is often dangerous for humans to drink it.
Miss Bailes has been involved with the charity for nearly 14 years as well as helping endangered wolves, and said she has always been an animal lover.
“I’ve had many dogs in the past and have a lovely black cat called Betsy, it will be hard to leave her behind,” she said.
“I’m also hoping that the experience will help me get a job with animals in the future rather than going back to a boring old bank.”