Eight Bears by Gloria Dickie [8/10]

I’m fascinated by nature writers surveying an entire family of animals or birds, so I savored Eight Bears: Mythic Past and Imperiled Future by American journalist. She travels the world investigating the eight bear species and a fascinating collection they are. The author spends time with conservationists, such as the man known as Papa Panda who has led the Panda breeding efforts in China, and activists, such as the head of a rescue center for bears freed from bile farms (yes, it is as repulsive as it sounds). I had never heard of the Spectacled, Sloth, Moon, and Sun Bears, and I suspect I’m not the only one. The chapter on the iconic Polar Bear is written beautifully. Most of the eight species are under threat of eventual extinction, and those that are now thriving, such as the American Black Bear, are increasingly clashing with encroaching humans. The author is a natural stylist and Eight Bears is a welcome addition to this year’s catalogue of books documenting our animals.

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