20
Sep
2010

The WildLife: A Zookeeper’s Bear Adventures, Else Poulsen, Part I

Else Poulsen, bear expert and author of the book SMILING BEARS, talks about her adventures as a zookeeper and her work uncovering the emotional lives of bears in this first of two-part interview. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme what makes these creatures so special – something she’s learned from years of raising bears, nursing bears back to health, comforting bears, communicating with bears, teaching bears, and learning from bears. Else Poulsen has worked at the Calgary and Detroit zoos and is known internationally for her captive bear husbandry and rehabilitation. In 2000 she won the Zookeeper Research Excellence Award from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Bear Taxon Advisory Group. She currently lives in southern Ontario, Canada and works as an animal management consultant for zoos, sanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitators, and other animal welfare groups. She’s written about her experiences in an engaging narrative non-fiction book, SMILING BEARS: A Zookeeper Explores the Behavior and Emotional Life of Bears, which has been short listed for the Edna Staebler Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction . This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on September 20, 2010. (Part II aired September 27, 2010.)

24
May
2010

The WildLife: Moon Bear Farming & Rescue, Jill Robinson

Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia Foundation, talks about Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears, and discusses the practice of farming them for their bile in China, Vietnam and elsewhere. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the horrific conditions on many of these bear farms and what she and others are doing to save them. In one of the most poignant moments of the interview, Robinson reveals the amazing capacity of these bears to forgive, noting “you’d have to be someone like Mandela to be able to forgive that sort of imprisonment” and also that the bears rescue people as much as people rescue the bears, saying “These bears teach us to be better people. They teach us to forgive. They teach us to overcome our problems and difficulties.” Born in the United Kingdom, Jill Robinson arrived in Hong Kong in 1985 and spent the next 12 years working in Asia as a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. In 1993, a chance visit to a bear farm in southern China changed Jill's life. Starting with this visit, she’s worked tirelessly to expose the plight of endangered Asiatic black bears cruelly farmed and milked for their bile, and learned how easily herbs and synthetics could replace bear bile. In 1995, she secured the release of the original bears she had discovered in 1993. Then, in 1998, she founded Animals Asia and in July 2000 she and the Animals Asia team signed a breakthrough agreement with the Chinese authorities to rescue 500 farmed bears and work towards promoting herbal alternatives to bile and the elimination of bear farming. Today, the Moon Bear Rescue has seen the rescue of 260 bears in China and the opening of a new rescue centre for 200 farmed bears in Vietnam. To date, 30 bears have been rescued there. Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue sanctuaries are spearheading far-reaching community, education and welfare programs, which benefit both animals and people alike. Jill is a former member of the Hong Kong Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Group and has received numerous awards in recognition of her services to animal welfare in Asia, including the Readers Digest “Hero for Today” award, an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in the Birthday Honours List, the USA Genesis Award (which is the only major media and arts award concerning animal issues), and others. In 2008, she was named “Outstanding Earth Champion” in Hong Kong and was appointed World Animal Day Ambassador for Asia. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 24, 2010.

17
May
2010

The WildLife: Sun Bears, Siew Te Wong

Siew Te Wong, a Malaysian wildlife biologist and sun bear expert, divulges some interesting characteristics of this rare Southeast Asian bear and how they fit into the ecosystem. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how he became one of the first to study sun bears, which are the smallest of the bear species and also the least known. Did you know that sun bears consider beetle larvae one of their tastiest treats? When they eat them, the animals close their eyes and savor the experience, similar to humans relishing the yummiest of chocolates. Siew Te Wong also talks about his adventures researching the species, threats to these rare bears, his rescue efforts, and what people can do to help. For the last 13 years, Wong has been studying and working on the ecological conservation of the sun bear. He is one of the few Malaysian wildlife biologists trained in a western country. He did both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at the University of Montana in Missoula, and is continuing for his doctorate degree there. His pioneering studies of sun bear ecology in the Borneo rainforest revealed the elusive life history of the sun bear in the dense jungle. Wong's research has taken him to the most threatened wildlife habitat on Earth, where field work is exceedingly difficult. While rapid habitat destruction from unsustainable logging practices, the conversion of the sun bear's habitat into palm oil plantations and uncontrolled poaching activities paint a bleak picture for the future of the sun bear, Wong is determined to help the present situation of sun bears in Southeast Asia. Wong is the CEO of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, which he founded in 2008. He was also a fellow of the Flying Elephants Foundation, which awards individuals from a broad range of disciplines in the arts and sciences who have demonstrated singular creativity, passion, integrity and leadership and whose work inspires a reverence for the natural world. Wong is also the former co-chair of the Sun Bear Expert Team, under the IUCN/Species Survival Commission’s Bear Specialist Group and a current member of three IUCN/SSC Specialist Groups. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 17, 2010.

25
Jan
2010

The WildLife: Wildlife Law Enforcement in Alaska, Al Crane

Al Crane, former FWS Special Agent, remembers his 30+ years in wildlife law enforcement in Alaska’s most remote reaches. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the many challenges he faced protecting walruses, wolves, bears and other creatures. He also discusses working within the Native Alaskan culture and how his involvement with the 1,150 mile Iditarod dog sled race, both as an organizer and entrant, helped him connect with the people and ultimately do his job better. Mr. Crane was a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the first such officer stationed in northwestern Alaska. He worked with the state of Alaska’s Fish and Wildlife Protection Division until 1974, when he moved to FWS to implement the then-newly passed federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. For the next 20 plus years, he acted as supervisor, pilot and field operative for that federal wildlife law enforcement agency. He was also one of the early organizers of the Iditarod, and ran that grueling race in 1977. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 25, 2010.