Queen of Katmai

When you look into the eyes of the "Queen of Katmai," can you tell she's a mother? She and her cubs must gorge on salmon during the fall run to bulk up for the winter, so she has no choice but to bring them to the river's edge, where they are at risk of an attack by big male bears. The responsibility on her shoulders is enormous–she must be alert, attentive, and focused at every minute. Yet even with this burden, I saw nothing but calm, vulnerability, and deep wisdom when she lifted her head and looked right at me. I knew then that I needed to tell her story. Our species is at once a citizen, guardian, ambassador, and key member of this Earth—I dream of a day when all humans can look into the eyes of any animal and say, "I am accountable to you. I am here to protect you and all that you represent." Photo by Paul Nicklen