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Else M. B. Poulsen


Positions: Core Group, Taxon Advisory Group Chair


Else began her career in animal behavior in the early 1980s working as a field biologist in Alberta’s oil patch. When the bottom dropped out of the energy industry she took what was supposed to be a temporary job as a zookeeper at the Calgary Zoo which instead ignited a life long passion for bear conservation and behavior.

After 18 years at the Calgary Zoo she left to work at the Detroit Zoo and then at a specialist bear facility in Canada. Over the years, she has provided expert assistance and advice about modernizing bear husbandry methods, environmental enrichment programming and enclosure design issues to zoos, sanctuaries and animal welfare groups around the world.

During her now 25 year zoo keeping career Else has raised bears, comforted bears, taught bears, learned from bears, has had bears communicate their needs to her, nursed bears back to health, been bitten by bears, and has had benevolent acts bestowed upon her by bears. As a result she has authored the book Smiling Bears - A Zookeeper Explores the Behavior and Emotional Life of Bears released in 2009.

Through her business Behavioral & Environmental Solutions, Else now consults as an animal behavior and captive environment trouble-shooter to zoos and animal welfare organizations around the world which has taken her from North America to Indonesia, Singapore, China, and Europe. She is published in scientific, trade journals and the media. Else has spoken to hundreds of audiences as diverse as school children and university students to First Nations Band Council members in northern Canada, both personally and through the media on bear behavior and conservation.

She is the founding president of The Bear Care Group - an international, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide venues for bear care professionals to share research, information and resources to better captive bear care in zoos, sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities.


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