BEARS kept in barbaric conditions and left in tiny cages for years have spurred a Yate group into five years of tireless fundraising.

Campaigners for the South Gloucestershire China Bear Rescue group have worked endlessly to raise £36,000 to help free Asiatic bears.

Founded by Yate fundraiser Dave Stallworthy, the group has sponsored several bears which were rescued by the Animals Asia Foundation.

They named one bear Abby, after the Abbotswood Inn, in Rodford Way, where the group holds regular meetings.

Mr Stallworthy, of Glenfall, said: "The group was launched five and a half years ago and we have now raised £36,000.

"I would like to thank everyone in South Gloucestershire who has helped by supporting the group’s activities."

The Gazette featured the Yate group when it first launched in 2003 sparking television interviews and a regional campaign to raise money for the bears.

The Moon Bears, as they are know throughout the world, naturally produce bile used in Chinese herbal medicine. Farmers of the bears use cruel and barbaric methods to milk the animals of the fluid and keep them in battery-style farms.

Mr Stallworthy was so touched when he saw a feature documentary about the bears on TV that he immediately set about launching his own fundraising initiative.

The group holds regular casino evenings and balls to raise vital funds to free more bears and pay fort heir rehabilitation at special centres across China.

UK director for the Animals Asis Foundation Dave Neale will give an update on the work with Moon Bears at a talk this Thursday, July 24 (7.30pm).

It takes place at the Abbotswood Inn during the group’s regular monthly meeting and anyone is welcome.