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Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo (edition 2008)

by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence

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1311091,855 (4.04)3
Member:briandrewz
Title:Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
Authors:Lawrence Anthony
Other authors:Graham Spence
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:zoology

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Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo by Lawrence Anthony

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This was an excellent book. It grabs you right from the beginning and doesn't let go. Lawrence Anthony tells of his amazing journey to Baghdad to rescue the zoo that had been decimated by war. What he describes is truly heartbreaking, but with an indomitable spirit and the support of others who shared his vision, the zoo flourished and can now be enjoyed by the Iraqi people.

This is truly one of the best stories to come from the war in Iraq. A riveting read! ( )
  briandrewz | Nov 3, 2012 |
This is a fascinating book about one man's concern for animals in a country he had no connection with. The only connection he had with the zoo is via media reports. Lawrence Anthony worked very hard to get the zoo up and running. The zoo staff's passion makes you want to work with them to get the zoo running. I learned more about the war through this book than any newspaper report. ( )
  seki | Aug 13, 2012 |
I learned recently that Lawrence Anthony died in March. I didn't know anything about him until I read this book, and even then, my knowledge was limited. Of course, it takes his death to learn more about him and find out that he was a respected leader for African wildlife conservation.

I'd seen this book at my library many times and finally decided to check it out due to some zoo research I've been doing. It was a very quick and engaging read. The story is about how Anthony found out about the plight of the animals at the Baghdad Zoo during the Iraq invasion and decided that he had to go and help out at any cost.

To say the book is eye-opening is probably an understatement. Not only do you get to witness the utter devastation at the Baghdad Zoo, but you also get to experience life in a war zone. It's no picnic, in case you were unsure. However, the dedication of Anthony, along with the perseverence of the Baghdad Zoo caretakers, and even the care and aid of the soldiers in the area was something fantastic to read about.

The book moved me to anger, to tears, and sometimes even (the faintest, tiniest bit of) hope. No matter what you feel about war, I think this is a good read for animal lovers and people interested in zoos. ( )
  preetalina | May 11, 2012 |
This book tells a remarkable story about a man who decided to prove a point about the value of wildlife by venturing into war-torn Baghdad to save the deserted animals at the zoo. It would have been far easier to shoot those animals on the spot when he arrived and put them out of their misery, but this was not why he was there. He was there to say that the callousness of humans against nature and animals has gone too far and that those animals deserve life and respect.

Anthony Lawrence is an engaging storyteller and if I did not know better I would think that some of the events that happened were fiction. I must admit that I have very little knowledge of the situation in Iraq before the war so it was interesting yet appalling to read about some of that too. It gives a backdrop as to how animals could be relegated to such deplorable conditions. Saddam Hussein, his administration and his family reigned terror on their people and this reflected on how the animals were treated. A man who can crash a wedding ceremony and rape the bride there and then is capable of anything.

Another fascinating aspect of the book was the ethics of animal conservation. Anthony Lawrence states that theory can be nice but when faced with practical reality you have to be pragmatic. He was referring specifically to some conservationists' objections to using donkeys as meat for the lions. The final chapters bring the clashes of various agencies and ideologies to the fore - should captive animals be set free? should animals be considered property or cultural "assets"? what is the place of zoos and what compromises can be made? These are all difficult questions to answer.

I do, however, have an issue with the moral schizophrenia that abounds in conservation. There is a real dilemma in killing animals to feed carnivorous beings like lions. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. But there is absolutely no need for humans to do so to feed themselves. As much as I object to using animals from an ethical point of view, from a purely environmental point of view it is also problematic. I've never understood greenies who eat animal products of which there are several mentions in the book. I also did not understand the arbitrary nature of them wanting to save the horses from Arabian stock but not 'regular' horses. This is putting an anthropocentric rationale as to which beings to save purely on their economic value and heritage rather than their inherent right to life.

Overall, this is a very engaging book from a pure storytelling point of view. I have nothing but admiration and esteem for people who will risk their lives to assist those in situations of exploitation. The book is very thought-provoking but in my opinion, falls short in the solutions offered. If the rating system allowed, I would give this 4.5 stars.
  herfancy | Mar 31, 2011 |
His story of coming to the aid of the zoo was amazing. In my opinion, the save the earth speech at the end of the book went on for too long and distracted from the story, but for all he did to save these and other animals, I couldn't fault him for it. ( )
  wholewatermelon | Jan 4, 2011 |
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Lawrence Anthonyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spence, Grahammain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312382154, Paperback)

THE ASTONISHING STORY OF ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST ANIMAL RESCUES.
When the Iraq war began, conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, caught in the crossfire at the heart of the city. Once Anthony entered Iraq he discovered that hostilities and uncontrolled looting had devastated the zoo and its animals. Working with members of the zoo staff and a few compassionate U.S. soldiers, he defended the zoo, bartered for food on war-torn streets, and scoured bombed palaces for desperately needed supplies. Babylon’s Ark chronicles Anthony’s hair-raising efforts to save a pride of Saddam’s lions, close a deplorable black-market zoo, run ostriches through shoot-to-kill checkpoints, and rescue the dictator’s personal herd of Thoroughbred Arabian horses. 
A tale of the selfless courage and humanity of a few men and women living dangerously for all the right reasons, Babylon’s Ark is an inspiring and uplifting true-life adventure of individuals on both sides working together for the sake of magni?cent wildlife caught in a war zone.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"When the Iraq war began, conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, caught in the crossfire at the heart of the city. Once Anthony entered Iraq he discovered that the hostilities and uncontrolled looting had devastated the zoo and its animals. Working with members of the zoo staff and a few compassionate U.S. soldiers, he defended the zoo, bartered fro food on war-torn streets, and scoured bombed palaces for desperately needed supplies. Babylon's Ark chronicles Anthony's hair-raising eforts to save a pride of Saddam's lions, close a deplorable black market zoo, run ostriches through shoot-to-kill checkpoints, and rescue the dictator's personal herd of thoroughbred Arabian horses."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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