Animal Emotions

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Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears Offers Lessons in Hope

Jasper is an ambassador for forgiveness, generosity, peace, trust, and hope

I'm pleased to write briefly about a new children's book about a most amazing nonhuman animal being (animal), an Asiatic moon bear named Jasper. Bears like Jasper are called moon bears because of the yellow crescent on their chest. The book is called Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears

Why is Jasper's story so special? For 15 years Jasper lived a miserable existence, held captive in a tiny "crush" cage by bear farmers in rural China. He couldn't move at all. The farmers extracted bile from Jasper's gall bladder and sold it to people using traditional Chinese medicines. Bear farming is a horrific practice and still is conducted on thousands of moon bears each year. But after being rescued in 2000 by people working for Animals Asia who are working hard to end bear bile farming, Jasper was given the chance to be free and to live a life away from pain and torture in Animal Asia's Moon Bear Rescue Centre outside of Chengdu, China. Here, veterinarians attend to the bears' wounds, hoping to give them some chance of a peaceful existence in the animal sanctuary. After many years of abuse Jasper's wounds, both physical and mental, were extensive. But he recovered and enjoys the best life he can. He even breaks up fights and welcomes other bears into the sanctuary. 

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Jasper tells people and other bears "All will be okay, trust me"

I've written about Jasper previously, noting that he truly is an ambassador for forgiveness, generosity, peace, trust, and hope and an inspiration for people of all ages. A recent review noted that Jasper's Story is "a story of recovery and resilience that offers hope and teaches a lesson.

How true this is. When I first met Jasper I could feel his gentle kindness. His omniscient eyes say, "All's well, the past is past, let go and move on". Jasper's gait was slow and smooth as he approached me as I fed him peaches out of a bucket. I gave Jasper peanut butter and his long and wiry tongue glided out of his mouth and he gently lapped the tasty treat from my fingers. Jill Robinson, founder and CEO of Animals Asia best describes Jasper's softness, his kind disposition, as follows: "Touching the back of his paw one day I saw his head turn towards me, soft brown eyes blinking with trust and I knew that Jasper was going to be a special friend."

Jasper knew that things were going to get better and that he would recover. Jasper tells people and other bears "All will be okay, trust me."

Jasper remains the peacemaker. He makes other bears feel at ease and that's how I felt when I first met him. Perhaps Jasper knows what the other bears have experienced and wants to reassure them that everything will be okay now that they've been rescued. Jasper truly opens up his heart to everyone he meets. And, I think Jasper knows the effect he has on others.

We can learn a lot about being positive from other animals. I can't thank Jasper enough for sharing his journey and his dreams. Jasper, like the dogs, cats, and many other animals who also need us, make us more humane and thus more human. The true spirit of humans, our inborn nature, is to help rather than to harm.

The teaser image of Jasper playing with his favorite red ball courtesy of Animals Asia.

 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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