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Nature Bears

Barle's Story

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

by (author) Else Poulsen

foreword by Gay Bradshaw

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Jun 2014
Bears, Animal Rights
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2014
    List Price

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Where to buy it


When a 19-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 bears who have been abused — 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 portrait of a remarkable bear and of the author’s inspiring work to help her discover her true polar bear ways.

About the authors


Else Poulsen holds a BSC 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 currently lives in Southern Ontario and works with zoos and other animal welfare organizations as an animal behaviour specialist.


Else Poulsen's profile page

Gay Bradshaw's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Barle's Story is a book that will move you to tears of sadness and tears of joy. ...I urge you to read Bärle's Story and to share it widely. I also urge you to share her story with youngsters"—Psychology Today, Dr. Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals

“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

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