In this inspiring and moving story, world-renowned zookeeper Else Poulsen describes how a female polar bear named Bärle was rescued from the filthy, inhumane conditions of a circus in the Caribbean and flown to the safety of the Detroit Zoo, where Poulsen helped her recover. There Bärle feels dirt instead of concrete under her paws for the first time in decades and slowly forges relationships with the other polar bears. Eventually, she mates and raises a cub. As Poulsen documents, however, not all captive bears are so fortunate. With black-and-white photographs.
"From the ashes of inhumanity, Bärle’s Story provides embers of hope for a rescued bear and an inspiration to save wild polar bears and the Arctic as we know it. Else Poulsen passionately weaves together the fragments of a once wild polar bear’s life as it is rescued from a cruel existence in a circus to a life of comparative normality in a zoo. While nothing can replace the life in the wild that Bärle was born to, Poulsen draws on her experience with captive and wild animals to provide rare insights into polar bear behavior: it’s the story of a polar bear learning to smile again." —Dr. Andrew E. Derocher, author of Polar Bears: A Complete Guide to their Biology and Behaviour, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
"Else's understanding of this amazing journey provides us new hope in our efforts to care for polar bears." —Robert & Carolyn Buchanan, Founders Polar Bears International and Arctic Action Team
"Much more than a rescue story, this intelligent, stark and gently humorous book makes one think that if all animals were listened to in the way that Else Poulsen listens to bears, our children would inherit an infinitely kinder and safer world than the one they enjoy now." — Dr. Jill Robinson MBE, Founder & CEO Animals Asia Foundation
"We may know intellectually that bears are intelligent, emotional and sentient beings but Bärle's Story, and Else Poulsen’s account of Bärle's life and their relationship is one that has the capacity to anchor this knowledge deep in one's heart forever, making it a life changing read." — Karine Hauser, Co-Founder and CEO of Hauser Bears
"Bärle's Story—her profound suffering and road to recovery—is at once deeply heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and heartful. Read this wonderful book and share it widely." —Dr. Marc Berkoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, and The Animal Manifesto
"A rare opportunity to see a polar bear up close and personal, in ways that no adventure tour, nature show, or visit to the zoo can ever provide." —Dr. Gay Bradshaw
"Bärle's Story documents the rescue of a female polar bear from almost unbelievable abuse in a circus in the tropics, her successful recovery, eventual mating, and successful raising of a cub in her new humane home in a zoo. Poulsen uses her experience as a keeper of bears in zoos to illustrate aspects of how much we can learn from observations of well-cared-for captive bears. Importantly, she also uses Bärle's Story as a platform from which to raise awareness of ongoing problems in the conservation of other species of bears in different parts of the world." —Dr. Ian Stirling, polar bear scientist and author of Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species