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19 October 2016


The Art of Happiness: Alex Cearns photographs the new life of bears in FTB sanctuaries

by Sara Cartelli

Have you ever wondered what happiness looks like? Have you ever tried to describe it?
Really, if I think about it I can’t picture. It’s too complex to be caged, it has too many facets to be described. It’s one and a thousand things at the same time. It’s everything and nothing.

Happiness is also a point of view.
It’s just one side of the coin, if you flip it over you find sadness.
It’s up to you to pick a side.

Alex Cearns knows which side is on. Do you remember her? She’s an Australian professional animal photographer, author of a project dedicated to malformed and maimed animals (found here). A sensitive issue you can approach to in several ways:

  • feeling sorry,
  • being an “anti” animal-rights activist (who thinks to us as humans?),
  • don’t caring about it,
  • understanding the inner beauty by telling it.

She has bravely chosen “to tell” this beauty and she’s back again with a new project that documents the life of rescued bears in the South East Asian sanctuaries operated by Free The Bears (FTB).


Alex Cearns

A ten years old female, rescued from a bear bile farm where she lived locked in a metal cage smaller than the size of her body. In this photo, for the first time, she’s playing with a ball.


Alex Cearns Sun Bear
 Alex Cearns Sun Bear

Alex Cearns Sun Bear

This sweet and funny puppy is the smallest bear of the FTB sanctuary in Cambodia. A female cub of only 4 months and 9.9 pounds, got its name from one of the protagonists of the cult series “Game of Thrones”: Arya Stark.



Three sun bear cubs playing, climbing in and out of their den entrance. “Beard Apartment Six” is a composition of 16 photographs taken for over than 90 consecutive minutes.

Bearzilla, Pooh and Soriya Sundance all have less than three year sold, they have been rescued from illegal wildlife trade when they had few months of live. This picture has been sold in a limited edition of 100 copies in just 5 days, raising over $ 9,070 for rescued bears.

What does any of this have to do with happiness?
Nothing or perhaps everything.

The work of Alex Cearns always makes me smile and I am glad to publish it.
Alex decided not to pity these animals, but to tell their happy ending. She has chosen the beautiful side of the coin. And that makes me happy.
Whoever does, is contributing to change things. Alex with her work has been able to raise awareness and economically help the FTB sanctuaries, ensuring a better life to hundreds of bears. And all this makes me happy.
We are not the owners of the world. And we should bear this fact in mind. Whoever undertakes to protect nature (flora and fauna) makes the planet a better place. And that makes me very happy.
Photography is art. Art is beauty. And all this makes me happy.

Perhaps my happiness is not your happiness and quite rightly so.
But if looking at these photos, will rise inside you even just a little emotion… This, will makes me happy.




Image courtesy Alex Cearns
© All rights reserved


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Sara Cartelli

Cogito Ergo Sum

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Sara Cartelli


Copywriter, content creator and mum with a huge passion for photography. Writing is a therapy that allows her to express her own personality and brings out her true voice. Better than a psychiatrist. Forever trying to find her way, at the time, she prefers to get lost.

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