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Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by…

Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives (edition 2010)

by Thomas French

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Title:Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives
Authors:Thomas French
Info:Hyperion (2010), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
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Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French

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Herman and Bamboo the chimps, Enshalla the Sumatran tiger, Arnold the pig, and Ellie the African elephant, are just a few of the stars in the limelight at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Florida. These precious featured animals are sure to win your heart over as you read this amazing story of what it is to experience a day in the life of one of America's most coveted zoos. From Komodo dragons, to golden Tamarin monkeys, from poison-dart frogs, to rhinos, owls and pythons, Thomas French delivers a top-notch personal glimpse of one man's vision to bring the African Savannah experience to the Lowry Park Zoo in Florida. Starting with a hair raising tumultuous journey of 11 Swaziland elephants aboard a jet streaming toward America, and ending with the sad passing of an aged and wise old chimp who was Lowry's "King", what you find in between is a heart-warming and often hair-raising account of just what it takes to foster, feed, and care for all of God's creatures; big, small, sweet or scary, striped or spotted, feathered or scaled. All the animals residing at Lowry get the best of keepers to love and care for them, feed and heal them, raise them from birth, and bury them at death. Zoo Story is a marvelous missive on the circle of life within the animal kingdom.

Thomas French's writing itself is impeccable. While realistic and informative, humorous, and heart-warming, he can make you smile and make you cry all in the blink of an eye, as that is the cycle that the daily rhythm in a zoo can evoke for both animals and humans alike. Emotions run high between caretakers and critters, one minute hugs, the next one tears. Bonding is inevitable, chaos is unavoidable, hijacks and hijinks abound. Yet through it all, zoo keeping is dirty, dangerous, and a thankless job that is definitely not a job for the weak of heart. It is a serious, scary, and sensitive world; one has to be a tough cookie to take it in stride while keeping alive and...sane. Crisis, calamity and chaos reign as the chimps screech and the elephants trumpet, all in a day's work shoveling lot of muck!

As an animal lover, this true story totally won me over as I found myself unable to put the book down. I read many books on both elephants and primates, so for me I enjoyed those chapters the most. However, there is much more to this Noah's Ark story for all to enjoy. I say four and a half stars for this journalist's achievement. Why not five stars? No photos. This book could have been perfect with a center section photo collection of the many animals you are introduced to throughout the story that could have given readers a more personal image and visual experience to their personalities and characteristics. There were many species of animals I had never heard of when I was turning the pages. I often found myself googling their names to see what they looked like. Color photos either in a center section or dispersed throughout the book would have for me been a more enhancing experience of the zoo and it's inhabitants. ( )
  vernefan | Nov 4, 2013 |
French's story of the Lowry Park Zoo was a quick, enjoyable read. I would have liked more about the animals and less about the people, but there were quite a few animal anecdotes. Too many of them ended with the death of said animal, however. A few cheerful anecdotes wouldn't have hurt.

I think I expect every animal book to be Gerald Durrell, which isn't fair. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
French has written a book that is on par just about anything written by Tracy Kidder ('House', 'Soul of the New Machine', amongst others). It is the classic journalistic treatment, bringing complex issues to a general audience - not by dumbing down the story but by taking the time to present it in context and unfolding it intelligently. The reader is given a wonderfully rich back story to the fundamental ethical and scientific debate about zoos - can the benefits that accrue from displaying animals in captivity justify the dislocation and distress that these animals must suffer in even the best run zoos. French presents all sides of the debate, and you get the sense that he may have struggled against some of his preconceptions about zoos in order to reach in the end a kind of ambivalence towards them. The power of French's writing is that he takes the reader along on the same journey without hectoring or lecturing, but by a series of portraits of animals and their keepers. A must read for anyone who ever considered a career in zoos, and a perfect companion to any of a range of excellent books detailing wildlife conservation in Africa. Highly recommended. ( )
  nandadevi | Sep 25, 2012 |
This book has it all: animal stewardship in zoos vs animal freedom, touching animal stories, labor relations issues, political machinations, power struggles, hubris. It is the story of the growth of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, focusing on its elephants and Siberian Tigers with nods to other animals as well and also focusing on its director Lex Salisbury and how his overreaching brought him down. Highly recommended ( )
  gbelik | Jul 12, 2012 |
a fascinating exploration of modern zooery. ( )
  chndlrs | May 29, 2012 |
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Based on six years of research, behind the scenes at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.

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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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Hyperion and Voice

Two editions of this book were published by Hyperion and Voice.

Editions: 1401323464, 1401310532

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