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on May 14, 2009
Else Poulsen's *Smiling Bears* is both highly informative and delightfully entertaining. Ms. Poulsen knows bears intimately, and she shares her remarkable insights about bear behavior, natural history, and emotional lives with compassion and understanding. The book is organized around the relationships Poulsen had with the bears under her care over a period of several years, how she learned what they needed, and how she sought to make their lives enriching, healthy, and fun. Anybody who is interested in animal life, especially the lives of animals in captivity, will find this book enormously enlightening. Anybody who is curious about the work of zookeepers will find this book fascinating.
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on July 19, 2015
If you love animals, have a compassionate heart, care about how we treat all the critters that make the world we live in so interesting...then pick up this book. You will never be able to go to a zoo again without considering the environment in which the animals are contained. Thanks to Else Poulsen for writing this lovely book.
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on June 9, 2012
I have always been interested in wild bears (Author of "Lonesome of Bears, A Woman's Journey in the Tracks of the Wilderness") and didn't think a book about Zoo bears would help me to more understanding of the animal, but I was wrong. This well written book grabbed me with it's big soft paw and pulled me into the story so hard I read the whole book in one day. Part of my fascination was the common sense and maturity of the author and her tough job. For example, Poulsen addresses the scientific notion of anthropomorphism in the practical manner of one who must work with bears on a daily basis and she tries to see the world through the senses and point of view of the animal. The rest of my intense interest centered around the fact that my observations of wild bears was re-enforced by everything she learned about bears. After four summer seasons spending time with Black and Brown bears in Alaska, I knew that each bear has a unique and strong personality. I also learned that they are aware enough to have a complex system of communication in body language, which they can use with humans if the humans are receptive. For a captive bear this is essential for the bear's well being. As an example, one of the things Poulsen describes so well are several bears who raise their paws and pantomime biting to tell her that something hurts. Think about that . . that means that these incredible animals not only think and feel but can communicate their feelings to humans. A thoughtful forward by Stephen Herrero didn't quite prepare me for the power of the authors voice. She has tales to tell and she does it well. I would give the book six stars if I could.
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on May 27, 2009
Smiling Bears certainly offers something for readers with very different motivations. For those who are already convinced that animals have unique temperaments and personalities, Smiling Bears will be a joy to read. For the somewhat skeptical, it should enkindle a glimmer of belief that animals do have emotional lives. For those doing research in this area, it will provide a wealth of supporting anecdotal information and it is a springboard of questions for further investigation.

The general reader, however, has the most to gain by reading Smiling Bears: rare insights into a bear's view of the world and communication between these magnificent creatures and the author. There are moving stories of animals rescued from horrific situations and rehabilitated. All are told in a down-to-earth, thoroughly enjoyable prose style by recognized bear expert, Else Poulsen. I am sure that the glimpse into the "essence of bearness" that Smiling Bears provides will produce many smiling readers.
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on August 4, 2009
I had heard about this book awhile back, and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Like most people reading these reviews (although there were near none when I had the means to buy), I was afraid that this was a hyped up story that had manipulated situations in order to get ratings..

aaaah, the fresh skepticism of a budding bear biologist.
Reaction: I couldn't put this book down.

The clean and personal writing style put me on the keeper's path, and led me to feel as if I had been looking through Else's eyes as she cared for these magnificent animals. The behaviors captured are not only awing, but inspiring.

As a person who plans on spending the rest of my life dedicated to bear conservation....along my piles of research papers and journals, this book will always be a cornerstone!

Thank you for a book well written.
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on August 22, 2014
This book was recommended by the WIldlife Center of Virginia. I am not much of a nonfiction reader but I trust their opinion and their online discussion made it sound interesting so I ordered it. It was hands down one of the best books I've ever read. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in bears. As a retired teacher, I would also recommend it as a read aloud to elementary school students 3rd grade and higher.
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on December 8, 2010
A wonderful book with great insights into bear behaviours and emotions. An excellent combination of personal experiences and observations with integrated information from research and conservation efforts on captive and wild bears.

Ms. Poulsen expresses very clearly the importance and professionalism of excellent zoo keeping, to be constantly verifying, observing and being creative on how to maintain and improve animal welfare. She is compassionate and understanding, concerned about the welfare of individual bears. Ms. Poulsen illustrates very nicely the different means of communication which exists between her and the bears, emphasising the importance of an excellent human - animal relationship and 2-way communication.

The book is a wonderful fusion of the sciences of animal welfare with emotional intelligence and their practical applications to improve the welfare of bears in captivity and the wild.

A great book to read, making you laugh, be concerned, and have even more questions about bears when you're done reading!
A must for any animal care specialist, researcher and conservationist.
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on July 2, 2009
After knowing the author for a number of years, I thought I should read this book to not only show a sense of support, but to understand her take on bears (and humans).
Her experiences with wildlife, bears in particular, are more than endearing! You get a REAL sense of how animals are affected by US....humans, the good and the bad; and how bears interact and that they too have emotions. After all, they are living beings.
After reading this book, I hope this volume will open the eyes of individuals as to what we have done as a society to wildlife. GREAT JOB ELSE! (I do believe that there's a child's book coming in the future, for those interested.)
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on May 15, 2009
"Bears do things for bear reasons". Else Poulsen's engaging narrative will envelope you in the lives and emotions of bears. The best way to relate to bears at all is through the stories of individual bears. Drawing on her keen scientific background as well as her open spirit the author shares wonderful experiences and insights into bear behavior. This is a book I will read more than once and that I will share with others.
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on August 21, 2010
If you love or care about bears this book is a must read. It's touching and humorous. I was sad to see it ending.
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