Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon BearsPosted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on August 13, 2013
In recent months, ALDF’s Animal Book Club has considered animal thoughts and emotions in Virginia Morell’s Animal Wise and the capacity of animals to not only grieve but to truly love and mourn the loss of love in Barbara J. King’s How Animals Grieve. Bears are some of the most emotionally sensitive, and yet horribly tormented animals, especially when it comes to Moon Bears. This is hard enough for adults to grapple with, but how do we talk to our children about the suffering of animals? The answer to this question can be found in Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears by Jill Robinson and Mark Bekoff and the work done by Animals Asia, in a work that is a testament to the beauty of Jasper’s spirit and the healing power of forgiveness.
Jasper is a real Moon Bear (with the tell-tale pale yellow crescent moon shape on his chest), who was held in a tiny, crippling metal cage for 15 years while his bile was painfully extracted through the most excruciating methods imaginable for use in traditional Asian medicines. A full grown bear, Jasper was held in a cage so uncomfortable, it would be too small even for a dog. He was one of the lucky bears rescued by Animals Asia and brought to the Moon Bear Rescue Centre.
But he was terribly hurt. Jasper’s Story describes how rescued moon bears have terrible physical injuries from their miserable confinement, and display all the signs of extreme psychological agony. When author and Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson found Jasper he was nearly wasted away and unable to move. Surely, after suffering years of such shameful, relentless torture and cruelty, Jasper’s spirit would be broken, unrecoverable?
In a way that would melt anyone’s heart, Jasper’s Story describes Jasper’s recovery; his first taste of freedom, his first experience of love, the first time he played. Jasper was so hurt he had to be taught how to smell and search for food, to stretch his muscles, to engage in normal animal behavior. In time, caregivers noticed a change come into Jasper’s eyes as they watched him roam safely in his sanctuary. He splashed in his pool, foraged in the grass, played in trees, and wrestled with his new bear companions. And most of all, he reached out in concern to other bears by his side. Despite how badly he had been hurt, forgiveness and compassion stayed in his heart. Now, Jasper welcomes each new bear who arrives at the sanctuary and becomes their friend.
“With his kind and gentle spirit he has become a symbol for bears and humans alike, reminding us all that love brings forgiveness and that, in return, forgiveness brings love.”
Jasper’s Story is a beautifully illustrated (Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen) children’s book from Sleeping Bear Press. Co-author Jill Robinson founded Animals Asia in 1998, which has established animal sanctuaries in China and Vietnam and helped hundreds of bears. She has been recognized globally for her work at the highest levels. Mark Bekoff is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado and has received the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society. Together, they have put together Jasper’s Story, a book adults can enjoy and a perfect tool for animal advocates to engage children about serious, dark issues of animal cruelty in a way appropriate for young people.
And that is why the Animal Book Club is giving away free copies of this gorgeous book to three randomly chosen winners who leave a comment below! Stay tuned this month for an interview with Jill Robinson!
How do you reach out to young people about animal cruelty?