Search for the Golden Moonbear: Science and Adventure in Pursuit of a New Species
(Simon & Schuster, October 2002)
Search for the Golden Moonbear: Science and Adventure in Pursuit of a New Species

“Intrepid Montgomery and Galbreath travel to perilous Southeast Asia on a chase that involves more captured than wild animals, the nerve-racking collections of bear hairs for DNA analysis, and a soul-wrenching immersion in the harsh reality of the illegal wildlife trade (second only to drugs in scope and violence) and the tragic lives of endangered hill tribes. Their suspenseful search takes them to corrupt Thailand, chaotic Laos, and bloodied Cambodia, land of at least four million land mines, vast mountain forests, sun and moon bears, and people who kill them for their medicinally useful body parts. What Montgomery witnesses in terms of animal and human suffering gives her nightmares and will make her readers shudder, but her riveting chronicle is not without hope, rich as it is in adventure, discovery, profiles of heroic wildlife specialists, bear lore sacred and scientific, humor, and a subtle but pervasive spirituality.”
—Starred Booklist


“Though this eye-opening book starts out as a chronicle of a scientist’s search for the elusive golden moon bears of Southeast Asia, it quickly turns into a spiritual, cultural and ecological study of two Third World nations ravaged by war and greed…Montgomery vividly recounts her sometimes humorous, sometimes horrifying experiences with a reporter’s keen eye, a conservationist’s outrage, and a poet’s lyricism…Readers who aren’t conservationists to begin with will be by the end of this heady and haunting narrative.”
—Publishers Weekly


“There is something heartbreaking and life changing about the stories Sy Montgomery tells, something so passionate and questing that it is impossible not to sit up straight, take notice. In her newest volume Montgomery sets out for the steaming cities and rain forests of Southeast Asia in search of answers about the gorgeous, elusive golden moon bear….With an invincible evolutionary biologist at her side, Montgomery fearlessly faces down the chaos and clamor of marketplaces and jungles, the bands of renegade poachers, the nightmare of so many landmine amputees, the restaurants serving bovine afterbirth, the ants that crown hotel toilet seats, the people who carelessly trade on rapidly disappearing wildlife. She stands unprotected in a den of bears and tweezes out their hair for test tube science. She sits at the foot of a monk and listens as he reminds her that, ‘Among the blessings of the sweet, fragrant trees, one can discover what wild animals know: in awareness of the moment lies the wholeness of life.’ This is a most beautiful and important book—exhaustively researched, persuasively presented, poetic and vital and throbbing with heart.”
—Beth Kephart, Book magazine


“Nature writer Montgomery leads us on an evocative journey to difficult places, following the trail of a mysterious creature…a treat for fans of the crocodile-hunting, snow leopard-searching, wolves-and-man genre.”
—Kirkus Reviews


“Sy Montgomery combines a poet’s keen eye for observation with the intrepid spirit of a Victorian-era explorer…Her wise, witty and humane account is equally concerned with people, and their responses to the landscapes and creatures around them. And while there are plenty of books about searching for vanishing or unknown species in the world’s last wild places, the quality of Montgomery’s writing sets this one apart.”
—Barnes and Noble Review


Advance Praise for SEARCH FOR THE GOLDEN MOON BEAR


“Read this fascinating, important book about one of the world’s least-studied and most mysterious bears. Sy is the master of sharing the thrill of scientific discovery and the humor along the way. You’ll be right there with her. Search for the Golden Moon Bear is a pleasure—like finding a patch of ripe blueberries.”
—Dr. Lynn Rogers, Director, North American Bear Center


“Sy Montgomery’s work is in a class by itself. No safe, stay-at-home desk job for her—evidently unworried by minefields and bandits, she traveled in very dangerous parts of Southeast Asia, taking risks that make John Wayne look like a wussie, to learn about a rare and vanishing relative of the black bear. The result is her usual brilliance, a book that is as original and interesting as it is insightful and beautiful. The author does more for animals in any one of her books than most of us do in a lifetime.”
—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, anthropologist, author, The Harmless People


“Sy Montgomery’s adventurous pilgrimage into Southeast Asia’s misty forests for an elusive bear the Brou people say ’is just like a person’ is also a search for human compassion. Like a modern-day shaman, Montgomery’s far-sighted quest for animals and people, science and story, heaven and earth inspires and—if the world could be as wonderful as this book—change.”
—Brenda Peterson, author, Build Me An Ark: A Life with Animals


“Searching for the identify of Cambodia’s elusive Golden Moon Bear, Sy Montgomery takes us on an unforgettable scientific, yet ultimately spiritual adventure though a bloody land of monks and landmines, of Buddhist compassion and empty forests haunted by the spirits of machine-gunned creatures who once lived there. In her hope and despair for the way in which we treat nonhuman animals, our environment, and each other, we witness a struggle for the fate of the planet and the human soul.”
—Steven Wise, lawyer and author, Rattling the Cage


“Sy Montgomery knows a thousand things you didn’t think you needed to know, but every page of her Search for the Golden Moon Bear will make you hungry for more of her particular kind of knowledge. I read this book like the mystery it is, rapt at the combination of precision and lyricism with which she recreates the trail of this most captivating of animals. Finally, what she taught me was awe at the gorgeous multiplicity of the earth’s creatures, and the complex web of human interactions necessary to discovering their world, which would otherwise stay hidden from us.”
—Rosellen Brown, author, Before and After