A woman's attempt to rescue an endangered bear kept in captivity in China has been hampered by thieves who stole a charity collection box.

Janine Jordan, 29, is cycling from Preston to Lytham on Sunday, to raise £5,200 to rescue one of China's Asiatic black bears, commonly known as a moon bear.

Janine, director of Care Staff Solutions, Penwortham, is horrified that bears are kept in tiny cages on farms in China and milked for their bile through holes cut into their gall bladders.

Janine and her friends have already raised more than £3,000 in sponsorship.

According to the Animals Asia Foundation, a charity that rescues and rehabilitates bears the bile is used in traditional medicine, soap, and wine.

Janine persuaded colleagues Nazma Ahmed and friends Tariq Malik, Joan Kershaw and Julie Bibby, all from nearby Kingsfold Pharmacy, Penwortham, Preston, to join her. A collection box containing £200 for the Animals Asia Foundation was stolen from the pharmacy.

Janine, of Park Lane, Penwortham, said: "The theft is a blow but it will not deter us to help rescue the bears.

"Many suffer brain damage from hitting their heads against the cage bars, some chew at their legs in frustration and clutch their stomachs in anticipation of pain when the farmers approach."

She has set up a moon bear support group to raise money for the bear, which she has called Preston, for care and medical treatment once it is rescued and housed at a special sanctuary in China.

Janine added: "Anyone who loves animals will want to help rescue Preston and allow him to see the sun, walk on grass and swim for the first time." To sponsor Janine go to www.justgiving.com\janinejordan.