Posts Tagged ‘bears’

Little Bear offers Mama Bear various items to make her feel better, but she’s too busy to notice—until he gives her his super, so good, so very special dolly. Silly humor, alliteration, repetition, and onomatopoeia make this a fun read-aloud story. A celebration of the special love shared between mother and child. For ages 3-7.
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538115_576714942342692_251306537_nA Bad Mad Sad Day for Mama Bear
By Mayra Calvani
Illustrations by KC Snider
Guardian Angel Publishing
Hardcover ISBN: 9781616334345; $15.95
Softcover ISBN: 9781616334352; $10.95
eBook ISBN: 9781616334369; $4.99
24 pages

Amazon / Guardian Angel Publishing

Little Bear offers Mama Bear various items to make her feel better, but she’s too busy to notice—until he gives her his super, so good, so very special dolly. Silly humor, alliteration, repetition, and onomatopoeia make this a fun read-aloud story. A celebration of the special love shared between mother and child. For ages 3-7.


Mayra Calvani 7

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications both in print and online. She lives in Belgium with her husband, two wonderful kids, and her two beloved pets.

Website: http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/

Blog: http://mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.be/

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayra-Calvanis-Fan-Page/162383023775888?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcalvani

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/272703.Mayra_Calvani

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ImageKim Antieau has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, both in print and online, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s SF, The Clinton Street Quarterly, The Journal of Mythic Arts, EarthFirst!, Alternet, Sage Woman, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. She was the founder, editor, and publisher of Daughters of Nyx: A Magazine of Goddess Stories, Mythmaking, and Fairy Tales. Her work has twice been short-listed for the Tiptree Award, and has appeared in many Best of the Year anthologies. Critics have admired her “literary fearlessness” and her vivid language and imagination. She has had nine novels published. Her first novel, The Jigsaw Woman, is a modern classic of feminist literature. Kim lives in thePacific Northwest with her husband, writer Mario Milosevic.

Her latest book is Her Frozen Wild.

Learn more about Kim and her writing at www.kimantieau.com.

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About Her Frozen Wild

Scientists in the Altai inSiberiauncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess or shaman. This mummy has the same mtDNA (mitochondrialDNA) as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared inSiberia30 years earlier. Ursula travels from theU.S.toSiberiato unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers he has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother supposedly disappeared. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.


Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I live in a small town inWashingtonStatein the beautiful Columbia River Gorge with my husband, writer Mario Milosevic. I grew up inMichigan, and Mario and I met atMichiganStateUniversitywhen we both attended a six-week writing workshop there one summer. We’ve lived out West for nearly thirty years and consider it our home now. We like to get out into the woods as much as we can and hike. Once a year we go toArizonaon a writing retreat. That helps us survive all the rain!

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I can remember. When I was in first grade, I won an art prize for something I had drawn. I got a lot of praise for that. It was very exciting for a six-year-old, but I remember thinking that I probably couldn’t make a living as an artist so I should become a writer instead. To this day I have no idea where a six-year-old would come up with something like that! And I now know from experience that making a living as a writer isn’t any easier than it is for an artist.

ImageDo you have another job besides writing?

Yes, I’m also a librarian. I was a branch manager, which meant I ran a public library. Now I’m a selector. This means I get to buy books for a living. For a long time I selected all the adult fiction for our library district. Now I select all the young adult books and graphic novels, for all ages.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

I was book crazy. I read everything and anything. We had lots of history books in the house, and I gobbled those up. We also got mail order books where there’d be two books in one. They were so cool because you’d read one and flip it over and there’d be another cover and another book. I loved the classics: Jungle Book, Wizard of Oz, Swiss Family Robinson, Gulliver’s Travels, Little Women. I read Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas, Jules Verne. I also read any horse book I could find. I loved anything that was strange and wonderful, but I didn’t really discover science fiction until I was in college. I’m not sure why. Maybe my library segregated the science fiction so I never saw it. In any case, I was eclectic in my tastes. I read pretty much anything my parents brought into the house or anything I could get from the library. I liked adventure stories. I loved the Black Stallion series and the Narnia series.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

I read a National Geographic magazine article about the discovery of a mummy in Siberia. They called her the “ice maiden.” She was tattooed, and she was buried with a conical hat and other items that made archaeologists believe she was a priestess or shaman. As soon as I read the article, I knew I would have to write about her. That’s when Her Frozen Wild was born. In my book, archaeologists uncover a frozen tattooed female mummy in the Altai inSiberia, too. But when they take a DNA sample and put it in the worldwide DNA database, they discover her DNA matches almost perfectly with Ursula Smith’s DNA, aPortland archaeologist who is peripherally involved in the project. Nobody can explain how this could have happened since Ursula is inPortland and has never been toSiberia, and the mummy has been encased in ice for 2,500 years. Despite being terrified of flying, Ursula travels toSiberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady.” She meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers Sergei has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. Ursula can’t imagine she is destined for anything, but she goes with Sergei and a shaman to one of the sacred timeless caves where her mother supposedly vanished thirty years earlier. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she has to unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei.

Did your book require a lot of research?

Yes! I probably did more research for this novel than I ever have. I generally enjoy research. I’m a librarian and a writer, so research comes naturally to me. But I had to learn a lot about a lot of topics for Her Frozen Wild. Archaeology is an avocation of mine, but I’m not an archaeologist. I hung out with an archaeologist for a while and interviewed her. Of course I learned everything I could about the Siberian ice mummies, and I kept in touch with an archaeologist who had traveled to the Altai and researched the mummies. I learned as much as I could about the Scythians, who lived in that part of the world. Some scholars have theorized that the Scythians were the source of the stories of the Amazons. I learned all about bear mythology, too. In fact, my husband and I spent some time with a modern-day Siberian shaman and became part of the Bear Clan. I also learned everything I could about cave art, tattooing, shape-shifting legends, alchemy, and Russian flora and fauna.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

Some of the best advice I ever got about writing was from writer Algis Budrys. He said we should ignore reviews. “You’re never as bad as they say,” he said, “and you’re never as good as they say.” I do try to ignore reviews. Fortunately, most professional reviewers have been kind to my work. It does hurt when you find something that seems harsh and cruel from a reader on some website. I try to remember that it’s just one person’s opinion.

When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?

I seem to write a lot about finding home. I didn’t realize this for years. Writers are often oblivious to their own themes! Then I discovered that I had ended three of my novels with the word “home.” I tried to figure out what that meant, but I’m still not! I have been trying to find a place to call home all of my adult life, a place where I feel valued, where people live in harmony and kindness with one another and the environment. I do know most of my books are about how we as humans live together on this Earth.

Do you have any unusual writing quirks?

I can’t start writing a novel until I have a title. I don’t like this particular quirk! I usually come up with a title fairly quickly, but there have been times when I just couldn’t get one I liked. If I can’t get a title, I can’t start the book. This is very frustrating. I am trying to get over this little quirk.

What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?

I’m afraid I’m wary of critique groups. I was fortunate enough to go to college where I took many writing classes. This was a great foundation because I learned a lot about technique. Teachers were able to tell me what was working and what wasn’t necessarily working. The downside to that was that my writing teachers didn’t like or understand anything genre. Once I wrote a science fiction story, and my writing professor wrote in the margins that he didn’t know what to say about it. “If you must write this sort of thing, I suppose it’s all right,” he wrote. I was astonished! So I do think it’s good to have people read what you’re writing, especially when you’re first starting out. But writing groups can be harmful. As writers, we need to develop our own voices. We can’t develop Joan Didion’s voice or Stephen King’s voice; we need our own. I’m not sure you can develop your own voice when a whole chorus of people are telling you what they think you’re doing wrong. People in these groups often start writing for the group in a way that will get approval. The work coming from a particular critique groups starts sounding alike. I have been a part of some writing groups that were helpful. These were the ones where we met as peers not to critique one another but to share our work, if we wanted, and to talk about our process and how we were doing living the writing life.

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Practitioners of Traditional Asian Medicine have used bear gall bladders and bile for 3,000 years. Yet it wasn't until the 1980's that the cruel, intensive 'farming' of bears began. Though there have been positive developments with the Vietnamese government recently, bear farming still takes place in other parts of Asia. It is estimated that at least 12,000 bears are trapped in these inhumane facilities inside tiny cages the size of their bodies and subjected to a lifetime of suffering and pain as their gall bladders are drained on a daily basis. In spite of the fact that there are a large number of natural and synthetic substitutes for bear bile, making bear farming needless, bears continued to be subjected to this inhumane treatment.

In this interview, Dena Jones, Program Manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) US, talks about bear farming, the campaign against it, and what we can do to help these beautiful wild creatures from experiencing a lifetime of suffering.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions on this important subject, Dena. What is the origin of bear farming? When did this cruel practice begin?

Bear gall bladders and bile have been used in Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) for some 3,000 years. During the 1980s, the practice of extracting bile from bears held captive for this purpose became popular in a number of countries in Asia. Since that time, the marketing of and resulting demand for bile products has led to the introduction of the intensive “farming” of these wild animals.

The number of bears on farms has increased dramatically in recent years. At present it is believed that there are approximately 7,000 bears held on farms in China, 1,400 in South Korea and 4,000 in Vietnam, although the actual number could be considerably higher than official figures suggest, particularly in China.

What countries are currently involved in this practice?

WSPAAs mentioned, bear farms are known to exist in China, Vietnam and Korea, but some low level of the activity also probably takes place in other Asian countries. While the scope of bear farming is limited to Asia, the killing of bears for their viscera and the commercial trade in bear parts is a global problem.

Due to the decreasing number of Asiatic black bears left in the wild, gall for use in TAM now also comes from American black bears, Polar bears, Sun bears and Himalayan brown bears. Bears in North America, for example, are killed illegally and their galls removed and smuggled out of the country for sale in traditional medicine shops in Asia.

What is the bile extracted from the bears used for?

Bear bile contains an active constituent known as Ursodeoxycholic Acid (UDCA), which on ingestion is believed to reduce fever and inflammation, protect the liver, improve eyesight and break down gallstones. The products of the bear parts trade can be divided into three categories: manufactured bile medicines, farmed bile powder and intact bear gall bladders. Intact bear galls are sold for the highest price. During a 2006 investigation conducted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), a TAM shop in Los Angeles was found to be selling a single gall bladder for $2,800.

As a result of the growth of the marketing of bear bile and the bear farming industry in Asia, bear bile is now being added to many non-medicinal products, such as wine and shampoo.

Isn’t there a substitute that can be used in place of bile for those who practice traditional Asian medicine?

Yes, there are a large number of herbal and synthetic alternatives to the use of bear bile. WSPA has surveyed TAM practitioners asking them about herbs that have the same medicinal properties as bear bile. This has resulted in a list of many different herbs that have the same properties and can be used as alternatives to bear bile.

UDCA, the active ingredient in bear bile, can be made synthetically, and it is estimated that 100,000 kg of this substitute is being consumed each year in China, Japan and South Korea, and that global consumption may be double this figure. WSPA actively promotes the use of both herbs and synthetic UDCA to reduce the suffering of bears on bear farms and the poaching of bears from the wild.

What exactly happens to the bears in these farms?

WSPAExtraction of bile from bears differs between countries, although all techniques result in serious animal welfare problems. In China the procedure involves the creation of a tissue duct, or fistula, between the gall bladder and the abdominal wall. Bile is collected by inserting a rod through the fistula, which then drains the contents of the gall bladder. To prevent the fistula from closing up the wound must be constantly re-opened, usually once or twice a day. Bears have been seen with inflamed and bleeding wounds, open incisions for bile extraction and swellings in the abdominal area.

The most common method of bile collection in Vietnam involves the use of ultrasound equipment to locate the gall bladder. Once located a long syringe is inserted into the bear’s abdomen to puncture the gall bladder. The bile is then siphoned off into a collecting jar. In Korea the extraction of bile from live bears is illegal. Instead farmers breed bears and slaughter them in front of their customers to prove the authenticity of the gall bladder.

Many bears live in cages measuring around 1 meter wide, 1 meter high and 2 meters long. Bears have been observed to be wounded and scarred from rubbing or hitting themselves against the bars of their tiny metal cages, where they cannot stand up or easily turn around. Prior to being used for bile extraction, bear cubs in many farms are trained to perform tricks such as tightrope walking for the amusement of visitors to the bear farms. At three years of age they are operated on to be farmed for their bile.

Is bear farming, and the commercial trade in bear bile, legal?

Bear farming is illegal in Vietnam but remains legal in China and South Korea. Products containing bear bile can be legally sold within these countries. However, international commercial trade from bear farms is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES is an international agreement between governments aimed at closely monitoring and controlling international trade in endangered plants and animals.

The legal status of the trade in bear parts within a country depends on the wildlife laws of that particular nation. For example, in the U.S. interstate trade in illegally taken wildlife or products from wildlife is prohibited, and 34 states ban the sale of bear parts within the state. Unfortunately, poaching of bears continues, in part due to the inconsistency of state laws and the fact that 11 states allow the sale and 5 states have no laws related to trade in bear parts.

How does the practice of bear farming affect bears in the wild – in Asia and elsewhere around the world?

All eight species of bears on our planet are regulated by CITES because they are either threatened with extinction or may be threatened if trade is not restricted. Five of the species are listed on Appendix I of the CITES agreement, which prohibits all international commercial trade in these animals or in products from them. With 75% of the world’s bear species already threatened with extinction, preventive measures are needed to protect remaining bears from a similar fate. The trade in bear parts puts pressure on small, isolated bear populations in particular.

One of the most common arguments made by the bear farming industry is that farming bears reduces pressures on wild populations, thereby aiding their conservation. It is argued that if the demand for bear bile is met by farmed bears there will be no need to hunt or poach wild bears. However, there is no evidence to support this claim of beneficial protection, largely due to an almost complete lack of information on wild Asian bear populations, particularly in China.

What is WSPA doing to end bear farming?

WSPA is pursuing a variety of approaches to reduce both the supply and demand for bear bile around the world. Through investigations WSPA has helped to expose the cruelty of bear farming and the illegal trade in bear parts. WSPA conducted international undercover surveys of the illegal trade of bear bile products in 2000, and again in 2006. This research documented the extent of the trade in several western and Asian countries including the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The organization has lobbied governments to take a strong stand against the bear bile trade and bear farming and also promoted the use of herbal alternatives to bear bile. Celebrities, like comedic actor Jackie Chan, have been enlisted to bring the anti-bear farming message to audiences around the world.

Have there been any significant developments in the campaign?

In 2005 WSPA reached a landmark agreement with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to establish a national task force to phase out bear farms in Vietnam. The agreement outlines the government plans for three main stages: 1) registering and micro chipping of all bears in captivity, 2) stopping the breeding of bears on bear farms and 3) enforcing the ban on the taking of bears from the wild.

WSPA has also funded the development of a bear parts detection kit to assist in efforts to enforce laws against the commercial trade in bears. The kits are currently being tested in Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, and plans are underway to trial the kits in Asia. Use of the kits will allow government officials to monitor the presence of bear bile in medicinal and cosmetic products and will help in determining the trade routes used to distribute bear bile products.

What can people do to stop bear farming in Asia?

Anyone using alternative medicine should ensure that they are not consuming products that contain bear bile (usually but not always identified by the word “ursus” on the ingredient list). Citizens or ex-patriots of Vietnam, Korea and China should communicate to government officials their desire that bear farming be phased out as soon as possible in these countries. Citizens of other countries can also help by asking their federal officials to encourage the Chinese and Korean governments to end bear farming.

What can teachers and parents do to teach children about these important animal welfare issues?

One of the best ways to address the mistreatment of animals is through improving human understanding of and attitudes towards them. One way to accomplish this is by encouraging the inclusion of humane subjects in educational programs. WSPA works across the education spectrum, from school age children to university students studying veterinary medicine and other sciences.

“IN AWE” is the WSPA program for 5 to 16-year-old school children, teachers, teacher trainers and curriculum developers. Working with governments, teachers and some of its member societies, WSPA has helped embed animal welfare into the school curriculum of several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Information about WSPA’s humane education program is available at http://animal-education.org.

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