Lesley Nicol, who played Mrs Patmore in the globally successful series Downton Abbey, has done much to raise awareness of the treatment of moon bears in Vietnam and China.
Since 2013 she has supported efforts to end the cruel practice of keeping the bears in small cages in order to extract bile from their gall bladders for use in traditional medicine.
She recently led other members of the Downton cast in recording a special message of encouragement for Animals Asia’s effort in taking over a former bear bile farm at Nanning in China and turning it into a sanctuary for its 130 bears.
The work of the charity and the rehabilitation of bears at its sanctuary in Chengdu have also been highlighted by actor Peter Egan, who has one of the rescued bears named after him.
Following the end of Downton Abbey, Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson said: “It was certainly emotional when the final curtain fell on the Christmas Special.
“It’s the end of an era for our friends in the cast who have given so much to the show over the years.
“We can’t thank them enough for the way they’ve brilliantly and consistently supported the bears.
“The show is massive in China as well, so to have these well-known actors and actresses en masse advocating our cause has been a huge boost – and ultimately has greatly improved awareness of the hidden cruelty of bear bile farming in the country.
“Downton has made a real difference to the lives of the bears.”
As well as raising awareness, the Downton stars have also hosted charity-raising events, and have consistently shared news of the charity’s progress on their social media feeds.
Main image: Jasper, one of the moon bears rescued from a bear bile farm, now thriving in his sanctuary environment in Chengdu, China. © Animals Asia