KYILLA Primary School education assistant Caron Gaske has given her words to help endangered animals.
Inspired by Perth activist and Free the Bears Fund founder Mary Hutton, she wrote children’s book, Raju, the Last Bear that Danced, donating proceeds of sales to the organisation.
The narrative follows the steps of a south-east Asian sloth forced to perform for tourists.
‘Raju is a true story: he was the very last bear to come in off the streets of India and was taken in by Free the Bears with two other organisations,’ Mrs Gaske explained.
‘He is so special and still alive, very happy and healthy living in a sanctuary with other bears near Bangalore.
‘None of the bears have any teeth: they were knocked out so the bears couldn’t hurt anybody and so they can never look after themselves.
‘Plus their noses are very deformed from all the rope and a lot of them are blind.’
Mrs Gaske said her passion for the project came from a deep love for animals rather than a penchant for writing.
‘I thought: ‘we have to get more money. We’ve got all the bears off the street (in India) but now they have to be looked after’,’ she said.
‘My next goal is to meet Raju: I have to hurry because I’ll probably live a lot longer than him so I need to get there. I just want to see him.’
Interestingly, Free the Bears has also helped support the gypsies responsible for the bears’ mistreatment.
‘When we took their bears, that practice was all the gypsies knew. They’re not educated, they’re nomads and had absolutely nothing,’ Mrs Gaske said.
‘Free the Bears gave them new industries to begin.’
The book was illustrated by Kyilla’s art specialist Terry Wilson.