by Carla Andrea Fundarotto
His name is Zhi Xiang, the 51-year-old Buddhist monk from Shanghai who transformed his Bao’en temple into a real animal shelter.
In fact, from 1994 to today, this man has saved many animals from the street, over eight thousand, including dogs, stray cats, but also chickens, geese and peacocks.
He saved them from accidental investment, disease, food capture and especially mistreatment.
“I absolutely have to save them. If I don’t, I leave them to a doom and a certain death, ”Zhi Xiang explained.
In the Zhi Xiang temple, where hundreds of cats and dogs are housed, the smell of animals mixes with that of burning incense. Here the monk mainly hosts the sickest animals, while the healthy ones are generally welcomed in another structure. The lucky ones also manage to find a new home, but unfortunately 30% of the animals rescued on the street die from being too seriously injured.
For Zhi Xiang it all started in 1994, with the rescue of an injured kitten found on the street.
From that day on, Zhi gets up every morning at 4 am and spends his days trying to find donations from family members, private individuals or other monks, since he does not use public resources. In fact, to save the most unfortunate animals, a lot of funds are needed. For dogs alone, they serve 60 tons of food a month and the annual costs are exorbitant: around 12 million yuan, over 1.5 million euros.
However, the monk also organizes international adoptions for the rescued animals. Just recently, the photo of him delivering a dog adopted by a Seattle family at the airport went around the web.
“I have a dream, that of being able to go abroad to visit them and take a picture with every dog I have rescued. So when I am old and I will not even be able to walk, at least I will have some photos to look at to relive those memories ”, concluded the monk.