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Animal attraction

By Li Aoxue (China Daily)

09:25, May 29, 2012

Gabriel wants the raptor rescue center "to provide a place for injured raptors to heal adequately as well as to let people know how to free raptors properly". Provided to China Daily

Activist gave up a promising TV career to help those who are unable to fend for themselves, Li Aoxue learns her story.

In 1996, when Grace Ge Gabriel was working as a news producer at a US TV station, she was invited to document nine Asiatic black bears rescued from bile extractors in Panyu, Guangdong province. The bears had been locked up in tiny cages for 13 years and had forgotten their natural habitat.

"They were afraid of the soil ... they were even afraid of putting their foot onto the grass," Gabriel says.

After seeing the scars on the animals, Gabriel could not hold back her tears. She decided to give up a promising career at the TV station and work instead with the organization responsible for rescuing the bears, the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

"I just wanted a full-time job to help animals. I wanted to let people know that animals have feelings; they can suffer pain, and it is our responsibility to make the world a better place for them," Gabriel says.

The 49-year-old Chinese American is now the fund's Asian regional director, working to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals by reducing their commercial exploitation, protecting wildlife habitats and assisting animals in distress.

During her time at the IFAW, Gabriel set up the first raptor rescue center in China, initiated anti-poaching operations to protect the Tibetan antelope, and took part in the formulation of China's first Animal Welfare Law.

"I like the Asian profile. As I understand this environment much better, I feel I can make a bigger contribution to IFAW's work," says Gabriel, who was born in Zhe-jiang province. She did her undergraduate degree at Communication University of China in Beijing and majored in mass communications at the University of Utah.

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