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The Loneliest Polar Bear

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The heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of an abandoned polar bear cub named Nora and the humans working tirelessly to save her and her species, whose uncertain future in the accelerating climate crisis is closely tied to our own Six days after giving birth, a polar bear named Aurora got up and left her den at the Columbus Zoo, leaving her tiny, squealing cub to fend The heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of an abandoned polar bear cub named Nora and the humans working tirelessly to save her and her species, whose uncertain future in the accelerating climate crisis is closely tied to our own Six days after giving birth, a polar bear named Aurora got up and left her den at the Columbus Zoo, leaving her tiny, squealing cub to fend for herself. Hours later, Aurora still hadn't returned. The cub was furless and blind, and with her temperature dropping dangerously, the zookeepers entrusted with her care felt they had no choice: They would have to raise one of the most dangerous predators in the world themselves, by hand. Over the next few weeks, a group of veterinarians and zookeepers would work around the clock to save the cub, whom they called Nora. Humans rarely get as close to a polar bear as Nora's keepers got with their fuzzy charge. But the two species have long been intertwined. Three decades before Nora's birth, her father, Nanuq, was orphaned when an Inupiat hunter killed his mother, leaving Nanuq to be sent to a zoo. That hunter, Gene Agnaboogok, now faces some of the same threats as the wild bears near his Alaskan village of Wales, on the westernmost tip of the North American continent. As sea ice diminishes and temperatures creep up year-after-year, Gene and the polar bears--and everyone and everything else living in the far north--are being forced to adapt. Not all of them will succeed. Sweeping and tender, The Loneliest Polar Bear explores the fraught relationship humans have with the natural world, the exploitative and sinister causes of the environmental mess we find ourselves in, and how the fate of polar bears is not theirs alone.


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The heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of an abandoned polar bear cub named Nora and the humans working tirelessly to save her and her species, whose uncertain future in the accelerating climate crisis is closely tied to our own Six days after giving birth, a polar bear named Aurora got up and left her den at the Columbus Zoo, leaving her tiny, squealing cub to fend The heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of an abandoned polar bear cub named Nora and the humans working tirelessly to save her and her species, whose uncertain future in the accelerating climate crisis is closely tied to our own Six days after giving birth, a polar bear named Aurora got up and left her den at the Columbus Zoo, leaving her tiny, squealing cub to fend for herself. Hours later, Aurora still hadn't returned. The cub was furless and blind, and with her temperature dropping dangerously, the zookeepers entrusted with her care felt they had no choice: They would have to raise one of the most dangerous predators in the world themselves, by hand. Over the next few weeks, a group of veterinarians and zookeepers would work around the clock to save the cub, whom they called Nora. Humans rarely get as close to a polar bear as Nora's keepers got with their fuzzy charge. But the two species have long been intertwined. Three decades before Nora's birth, her father, Nanuq, was orphaned when an Inupiat hunter killed his mother, leaving Nanuq to be sent to a zoo. That hunter, Gene Agnaboogok, now faces some of the same threats as the wild bears near his Alaskan village of Wales, on the westernmost tip of the North American continent. As sea ice diminishes and temperatures creep up year-after-year, Gene and the polar bears--and everyone and everything else living in the far north--are being forced to adapt. Not all of them will succeed. Sweeping and tender, The Loneliest Polar Bear explores the fraught relationship humans have with the natural world, the exploitative and sinister causes of the environmental mess we find ourselves in, and how the fate of polar bears is not theirs alone.

30 review for The Loneliest Polar Bear

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben Goldfarb

    Had a chance to blurb this one; here's what I wrote: "The Loneliest Polar Bear artfully bridges two worlds: the fast-warming Arctic, where wild bears and human communities are imperiled by melting ice, and the American zoos in which Nora, a captive-born ambassador for her species, struggles for her own survival. Kale Williams tells this ursine coming-of-age story with compassion, grace, and a reporter’s keen eye for the astonishing details of Nora’s life." Had a chance to blurb this one; here's what I wrote: "The Loneliest Polar Bear artfully bridges two worlds: the fast-warming Arctic, where wild bears and human communities are imperiled by melting ice, and the American zoos in which Nora, a captive-born ambassador for her species, struggles for her own survival. Kale Williams tells this ursine coming-of-age story with compassion, grace, and a reporter’s keen eye for the astonishing details of Nora’s life."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Konet

    I thought this was an emotional and important nature book about climate change and the effect it is having on some of the most vulnerable animals, the polar bears. I like how the book goes back in time an recounts how they came to be and how long they have been on the planet. It was emotional AF because this story centers around Nora who was born at a zoo in Cleveland, and was abandoned by her mother Aurora, who is also a polar bear raised in captivity. The zookeepers were forced tp intervene be I thought this was an emotional and important nature book about climate change and the effect it is having on some of the most vulnerable animals, the polar bears. I like how the book goes back in time an recounts how they came to be and how long they have been on the planet. It was emotional AF because this story centers around Nora who was born at a zoo in Cleveland, and was abandoned by her mother Aurora, who is also a polar bear raised in captivity. The zookeepers were forced tp intervene between mom and baby in order to save the baby cub. I thought this was well written and someone who has entered the veterinary medical field, I like this had a happy ending even though globally polar bears in are in major trouble. I hope when I become a licensed veterinary technician and get experience in the field, I can be part of conservation work. Highly recommended and it is not all sad. Thanks to Netgalley, Kale Williams and Crown Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Available: 3/23/21

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    This is a good book. So is this one. And this one is good too, or at least important. Putting them all together and calling it one book, however, didn’t work completely smoothly for me. There is the story of a specific polar bear cub with physical and mental health issues, the three zoos she has lived at so far, and the issues related to animals being kept captive. There are the general scientific and political histories of climate change during the past few decades. There are the specific ecologic This is a good book. So is this one. And this one is good too, or at least important. Putting them all together and calling it one book, however, didn’t work completely smoothly for me. There is the story of a specific polar bear cub with physical and mental health issues, the three zoos she has lived at so far, and the issues related to animals being kept captive. There are the general scientific and political histories of climate change during the past few decades. There are the specific ecological and social effects of that changing climate upon the Arctic area. I’m probably biased by having once been a docent at a zoo where a polar bear played catch with another docent using a large plastic ball, but for me the zoo angle would have been the most interesting subject to explore further. I imagine the hope here is that people drawn to the story of an abandoned bear cub will be open to learning more about climate change in a less politicized setting. I fear many people are going to be annoyed by the constant cutting away from the specific story which is presumably their main reason for reading the book. And people who already know the basics of climate change are going to find pages of information they already know. Thanks to Crown and NetGalley for an advance copy to review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Galloway

    This was one of those books that didn't fit together well, for me. I was fascinated by the polar bear narratives and I certainly agree with the environmentalist parts and am glad I learned more. However, I don't think those combined seamlessly in the book. As an example, if you get me invested in the survival of a bear cub and then leave me on a cliffhanger to talk about environmental policy... well, that chapter on policy is going to suffer. It may be important, but it's not going to be as emot This was one of those books that didn't fit together well, for me. I was fascinated by the polar bear narratives and I certainly agree with the environmentalist parts and am glad I learned more. However, I don't think those combined seamlessly in the book. As an example, if you get me invested in the survival of a bear cub and then leave me on a cliffhanger to talk about environmental policy... well, that chapter on policy is going to suffer. It may be important, but it's not going to be as emotionally gripping as the bear's plight. And then, after the long chapter break, the momentum is broken when we get back to the bear. Further, because the environmental parts were much broader in scope, they didn't actually segway well from the polar bear bits. They also endeavored to be timely, which means that they sometimes talked about recent events... and maybe it's too soon. It's possible that people interested in nature and the environment missed Greta Thunberg... but it seems unlikely. Maybe in five years those parts will be more surprising and interesting to readers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Apparently I missed the zoo birth and feedings of Nora the Polar Bear at the Columbus Zoo. Fortunately, a book has been written with most of the details about Nora’s life, beginning with her birth and continuing to her life at two other zoos. There is much more to the book than Nora’s life. It is also about the indigenous people who rely on polar bears for sustenance in the polar regions of Canada and Alaska, where Nora’s mother was rescued as a cub. Mostly, the book connects the dots between gl Apparently I missed the zoo birth and feedings of Nora the Polar Bear at the Columbus Zoo. Fortunately, a book has been written with most of the details about Nora’s life, beginning with her birth and continuing to her life at two other zoos. There is much more to the book than Nora’s life. It is also about the indigenous people who rely on polar bears for sustenance in the polar regions of Canada and Alaska, where Nora’s mother was rescued as a cub. Mostly, the book connects the dots between global warming and the far reaching effects on those polar regions and inhabitants.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A book about climate change and how the smallest actions can have large consequences. It was fun to read about Nora, a polar bear I visited at the Oregon zoo before she was moved to Utah. I had no idea of the health issues she faced. There are no solidly easy answers, but we all must work together to make change happen.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve Nolan

    I decided on giving this book a three - because it was good! I liked it! - but seeing the picture of the cover and reading the blurb I was like, oh no, I cannot give this polar bear anything less than 10 stars. (The polar bear is good.) I did also like the tangential side stories, sometimes I feel like they're sort of detracting from the main story but these ones were all pretty good. I decided on giving this book a three - because it was good! I liked it! - but seeing the picture of the cover and reading the blurb I was like, oh no, I cannot give this polar bear anything less than 10 stars. (The polar bear is good.) I did also like the tangential side stories, sometimes I feel like they're sort of detracting from the main story but these ones were all pretty good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Casavecchia

    5 stars for every single section about Nora, the baby polar bear. (Who was born at the Columbus Zoo, which I am obsessed with.) I enjoyed the information about Alaska and the Arctic, to an extent. But I could have done with less about that and more about Nora.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carole S.

    Outstanding An outstanding book. Like zoos use popular animals such as polar bears, elephants, gorillas, and big cats to increase attendance and revenues so they can help conserve less glamorous species, this book wraps the story of a cute, abandoned polar bear around crucial information on global warming. Excellent reporting, writing, and factual data. A book I will gift to many. A great antidote to climate deniers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Of course I loved this story of a young polar bear, but I especially appreciate how the author covered climate change and its impact on the Arctic and entwined it with the story of Nora.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dan Fischer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elliot

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Graves

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rob Richert

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alfred Guo

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anne Snyder

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey Martinson

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rosemarie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  23. 4 out of 5

    Justine

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  25. 4 out of 5

    Timothy S. Henson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  27. 4 out of 5

    Grant Butler

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cait (acaffeinatedbookworm)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eva

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