Bärle's Story: One Polar Bear's Amazing Recovery from Life as a Circus Act

Bärle's Story: One Polar Bear's Amazing Recovery from Life as a Circus Act

by Else Poulsen, Gay Bradshaw

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The award-winning zookeeper and author of Smiling Bears shares her account of rescuing and rehabilitating a bear held in a Caribbean circus.

When a nineteen-year-old female polar bear named Barle 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 abused bears—is on hand to meet her and help her on the road to recovery and self-discovery. Thus begins Barle’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, Barle 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, Barle’s Story provides a rich and moving portrayal of a remarkable bear and of the author’s inspiring work to help her discover her true polar bear ways.

Praise for Barle’s Story

“This intelligent, stark, and gently humorous book makes one think that if all animals were listened to in the way that…Poulsen listens to bears, our children would inherit an infinitely kinder and safer world that the one they enjoy now.” —Dr. Jill Robinson MBE, founder and CEO, Animals Asia Foundation

“At once deeply heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and heartful. Read this wonderful book and share it widely.” —Dr. Marc Bekoff, author of Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781926812885
Publisher: Greystone Books
Publication date: 06/07/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 918,882
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Foreword G.A. Bradshaw ix

Acknowledgments xi

Prologue 1

1 A Fedex'D Polar Bear 4

Bärle's Arrival at the Detroit Zoo

2 Berry Picking With Polar Bears 23

How Bärle Ended Up in a Caribbean Circus

3 The Rescue 42

A Solid Team of Political Opponents

4 The Road to Recovery 59

Bärle's Quarantine

5 A Pothole in the Road to Recovery 8

Bärle's Quarantine Revisited

6 The Language of Bears 98

Bärle's Vicarious Learning

7 A Good First Impression 128

Introducing Bärle

8 Friends With Benefits 143

Bärle Chooses a Mate

9 Teaching Life Skills to a Polar Bear Bärle Raises Talini 163

10 Does One Bear's Life Matter? 185

Asking Questions

Notes 206

References 211

Index 220

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