After a successful campaign to raise awareness about the dangerous of shark fin soup, Yao Ming is now working to fight poaching.
I don't know about you, but I can't wait for retirement. I have delicious dreams to do nothing in my fancy beachside home as I grow old, soak up some sun, and read and write at my leisure. And I was totally OK with my goals of supreme lazydom ... until I saw what Yao Ming's been doing since retiring from the NBA.
Yao Ming is not on a beach drinking things with tiny umbrellas in them. Yao Ming is saving the sharks.
In his home country of China, shark fin soup had become so popular that the country became the largest market for shark fin. While there isn't much meat in the fin itself, the dish was considered something of a status symbol. As more people were able to afford to order shark fin soup, our sharky friends paid the price — with their lives.
A shocking 1 in 4 shark species is now endangered.
The number of sharks in our seas has been steadily decreasing for decades. About 100 million sharks a year are killed — 73% of those are targeted for their fins, which are usually cut off before the shark is left to die.
That's why Yao teamed up with the conservation nonprofit WildAid to spread the word that shark fin soup is bad news bears. Since launching with the slogan "When the buying stops, the killing can too," a huge shift has occurred. The campaign has been credited with cutting the number of sharks killed for their fins by 50 percent.
So, yeah ... Yao Ming's retirement work definitely puts my plan to shame.
Thanks to Yao's campaign with WildAid, support for a shark fin soup ban has skyrocketed in China.
Until recently, many Chinese didn't even know that shark fin soup came from sharks. (The Mandarin translation is "fish wing soup.") Now, surveys show that a whopping 91% support a nationwide ban of shark fin consumption. While the ban hasn't happened yet, the Chinese government has banned shark fin soup at its state dinners.
Now that's some news to dance about!
Thanks to the shark fin campaign's success, Ming is looking to bring his awareness-raising powers to more members of the animal kingdom.
Ming recently visited Kenya to raise awareness about the dangers of poaching elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns. His journey is documented on the Emmy-nominated "Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming" by Animal Planet.
The shark fin soup campaign's success proves that knowledge really is power.
Yao has been able to use his celebrity to make serious progress on an issue that came down to people just not being properly informed. I can't wait to see how his new efforts to save elephants and rhinos turn out.
Huge thanks to Yao Ming for his dedication to protecting our animal friends.
And setting a really high bar for post-career accomplishments during my retirement years.