272 pages, b/w photos
When a 19-year old female polar bear named Bärle is rescued from the inhumane conditions of a circus in the Caribbean and flown to safety in Detroit, zookeeper Else Poulsen – renowned throughout the world for her work rehabilitating bears who have been abused – is on hand to meet her and help her on the road to recovery and self-discovery. Thus begins Bärle's gradual introduction into the world of polar bears. Slowly she forges relationships with the other bears in the zoo and eventually mates with a young male and successfully raises a cub.
By living in a caring, enriched environment focused on her welfare, Bärle is able to recover from the trauma she had suffered at the circus and develop skills that are important to thriving as a polar bear. As Poulsen documents, however, not all captive bears are so fortunate. Augmented with black-and-white photographs, Bärle's Story provides a rich and moving portrait of a remarkable bear and of the author's inspiring work to help her discover her true polar bear ways.
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Else Poulsen holds a B.SC. degree in biological sciences. She has worked at the Calgary and Detroit zoos and is known internationally in the zoo and animal welfare community for her work with captive bear husbandry and rehabilitation. She has taught at conferences and workshops around the world and won the Zookeeper Excellence Award for bear research from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in 2000. She lives in southern Ontario and works with zoos and other animal welfare organizations as an animal behavior specialist.
Gay Bradshaw is Executive Director of The Kerulos Center a non-profit organization based on the scientific understanding of animals as thinking, feeling, sentient beings, and the author of Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity.