Search for the Golden Moonbear:
Science and Adventure in the Asian Tropics
Simon & Schuster, October 2002
Search for the Golden Moonbear

“With characteristic verve, the author of The Tarantula Scientist reports on an expedition into Laos and Thailand, trailing an elusive new kind of bear—related to the indigenous Moon Bear, but with spectacular golden coloring. Along the way, she offers readers a gallery of other animals unknown to science that have been recently discovered in Southeast Asia. She offers an eye-opening account of how the work is done—not by plunging off into the trackless wild, but by combing local markets, zoos and animal-rescue centers to gather hair samples of caged creatures for DNA analysis by a lab in Idaho. It’s also a quick but heartrending glimpse of the area’s violent recent history. Laced with captivating color photos and capped with an array of facts and resources about bears of all sorts, this pared-down version of the adult title should be irresistible to bear lovers and budding naturalists alike.”
—Kirkus Reviews


This is a natural…for young environmentalists and animal lovers, as well as readers who just like a good science mystery.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“While on an expedition to the Amazon, a fellow scientist told Montgomery about a bear seen years before in Yunnan, China-a bear with tall round ears, a white crescent on its chest, a bushy mane, and a coat as golden as a palomino. Later, a chance meeting with a young Cambodian unearthed a recent photo of a golden bear. From these encounters a scientific expedition to Southeast Asia evolved, seeking to determine if this honey-colored creature was a new species or a previously unseen color variation of Ursus thibetanus. Montgomery’s conversational text takes readers to open-air markets and fruit farms in Cambodia, a wildlife breeding center and a zoo in Thailand, and hillside tribal villages in Laos (with a hefty interlude of tropical rain forest investigation), seeking the elusive animal. Whenever possible, the team obtained hair samples from specimens for DNA analysis, hoping for mitochondrial confirmation of the golden bear’s place in the evolutionary tree, and possible links to the migration route of the earliest moon bears. The exciting narrative is complemented by an array of full-color photos and “data pages” on such topics as DNA decoding and mammals recently discovered in Southeast Asia. Appendixes include global bear statistics and addresses and Web sites for further information. This attractive and informative offering is an intelligent reportage of science as it happens-from the conception of an idea to authoritative analysis in a specialized lab-and lets readers see that the “end” of an investigation holds within itself the nucleus of a new idea.”
—Starred Review, School Library Journal
Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY


“As in Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon (2002), nature writer Montgomery has adapted this from a longer work she wrote for adults. Here she chronicles her travels in war-torn Southeast Asia in search of an elusive golden-furred bear, hoping to nab tufts of its hair for DNA analysis to confirm a species not previously known to science. Though discussions of the region’s bloody history have been toned down, Montgomery does frame the adventure with thought-provoking context. Readers will learn that ‘one in 236 Cambodians is missing a hand or a foot, or a leg or an arm,’ courtesy of the Khmer Rouge, and that bears not inhumanely caged as curiosities risk being hacked apart for use in traditional medicines. Supplementing the team’s limited number of field snaps are stock images that don’t always tie closely to the text (and aren’t always accompanied by captions). Still, kids will be inspired by Montgomery’s smooth presentation of complicated concepts, all delivered with engaging, shoot-from-the-hip enthusiasm. Ample end matter concludes.”
—Jennifer Mattson, Booklist


“This attractive and informative offering is an intelligent reportage of science as it happens.”
—Starred Review, School Library Journal