Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

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by Thomas French, John Allen Nelson
     
 

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas French goes behind the scenes at one of the country's most popular-and most controversial-destinations: zoos.

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Overview

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas French goes behind the scenes at one of the country's most popular-and most controversial-destinations: zoos.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist French goes behind the scenes at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo in this absorbing and balanced account that reveals extinction, conservation, and captivity issues in all their moral complexities and featuring a very memorable cast. The author introduces readers to Herman, the lovable species-confused chimpanzee who has reigned at Lowry Park for three decades; Enshalla, whose “family history was like a Greek tragedy,” and her mate Eric, Sumatran tigers whose attempts at mating captivate the zoo staff; Ladybug, the black bear who likes oranges and peanut butter; Lex Salisbury, the ambitious CEO who holds the fate of the zoo animals and humans in his hands; and the trainers who witness the circle of life and death among their charges. We are forced to reconsider our notions of freedom and captivity when presented with such scenarios as 11 partially sedated wild South African elephants being moved to U.S. zoos to escape slaughter at home. A thoughtful and moving but unsentimental portrait of life in captivity and a broad introduction to some of its most salient—and intractable—dilemmas. (July)
From the Publisher
"The book captures the fascination humans have with animals, and vice versa, and raises questions about the purpose and management of zoos." —Kirkus Starred Review
Kirkus Reviews
An in-depth look behind the gates of an American zoo. Former St. Petersburg Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter French (Journalism/Indiana Univ.) gained unusual access to zoo personnel to research this vivid account of the hidden workings of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo during a tumultuous six-year period. Dwarfed by Busch Gardens and Disney's Animal Kingdom, Lowry was headed by CEO Lex Salisbury, an ambitious visionary with grandiose expansion plans. In the first of many sharply rendered scenes, French opens with the remarkable air-lifting of 11 wild elephants from Africa to the United States, where four of the awesome creatures served as the foundation for Lowry's planned five-acre "Safari Africa" area. The author describes animal-rights groups' vehement protests to the uprooting of the elephants from their Swaziland game reserve and the legitimate concerns of many specialists that American zoos are not properly equipped to care for the animals. Nonetheless, the elephants-immensely popular with zoo-goers-were certain to boost attendance and revenue at Lowry. French explores the clash at Lowry and other zoos between a mission to conserve animals and a desire to entertain people. The author recounts aspects of life at the city-owned facility: the deaths of its stellar residents, a beautiful tiger and a playful chimp; staff drills in how to return escaped animals to exhibits; a black-tie fundraising gala; and the growing turnover among dedicated zookeepers, who feel overworked and underpaid while Lowry officials pursue increasingly glitzy plans, including a 258-acre game park. In 2008, the mass escape of 15 monkeys from the site of the planned game park prompted a city audit of the relationship between the nonprofit zoo and the for-profit game park that eventually led to Salisbury's forced resignation amid charges of conflict of interest. Based on articles that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, the book captures the fascination humans have with animals, and vice versa, and raises questions about the purpose and management of zoos. A well-constructed, colorful read for animal lovers. Agent: Jane Dystel/Dystel & Goderich

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400168835
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
07/31/2010
Edition description:
MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)

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From the Publisher
"The book captures the fascination humans have with animals, and vice versa, and raises questions about the purpose and management of zoos." —-Kirkus Starred Review

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