London, Dec 3 (IANS): ‘Downton Abbey’ star Lesley Nicol, who played the bustling cook Mrs Patmore in the show, said: "I just burst into tears," when she learned of the plight of Asia's black bears who are held in cruel conditions and farmed for their bile
Nicol saw a video of the abuse of bears 6,000 miles away in Vietnam and China she knew instantly she had to do something about it, reports mirror.co.uk.
It led to the star becoming a key ingredient in a campaign to save them – and, in typical Mrs Patmore fashion, she rounded up fellow cast members to help out too.
Now their efforts have helped save 130 Asiatic black bears caught and farmed for their bile, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. And the power behind their success has been driven by the massive fanbase Downton Abbey has in Asia.
The scene was set back in 2012 when Nicol and late husband David Heald - Darbs – were relaxing at home one day and she saw a video tweeted by actor pal Peter Egan.
“It showed one of these bears being released from its cage, swimming around in a pool, and I just burst into tears,” said Nicol.
“That bear hooked my heart. I told Darbs we just had to do something.” she contacted Jill Robinson, the founder of Animals Asia which leads a campaign to end the farming trade for bear bile.
“Downton had a Chinese audience of 160 million, so Jill was delighted to have me on board,” the actress, 70, said.
“I promised to rope in other actors from the series and they all jumped on board too, making videos. Saving these bears became everything to Darbs and me. They are snatched from the wild, trapped in tiny cages, unable to stand on all fours.”
“They exist in unimaginable pain, their bodies abused and broken. And they are kept in a constant state of hunger and thirst, as it’s said to make their bile more effective for traditional remedies.”