Life at the Zoo: Behind the Scenes with the Animal Doctors

Life at the Zoo: Behind the Scenes with the Animal Doctors

by Phillip Robinson

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Overview

Please Do Not Annoy, torment, pester, plague, molest, worry, badger, harry, persecute, irk, bullyrag, vex, disquiet, grate, beset, bother, tease, nettle, tantalize or ruffle the Animals.—sign at zoo

Since the early days of traveling menageries and staged attractions that included animal acts, balloon ascents, and pyrotechnic displays, zoos have come a long way. The Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris, founded in 1793, didn't offer its great apes lessons in parenting or perform dental surgery on leopards. Certainly the introduction of veterinary care in the nineteenth century—and its gradual integration into the twentieth—has had much to do with this. Today, we expect more of zoos as animal welfare concerns have escalated along with steady advances in science, medicine, and technology. Life at the Zoo is an eminent zoo veterinarian's personal account of the challenges presented by the evolution of zoos and the expectations of their visitors. Based on fifteen years of work at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, this charming book reveals the hazards and rewards of running a modern zoo.

Zoos exist outside of the "natural" order in which the worlds of humans and myriad exotic animals would rarely, if ever, collide. But this unlikely encounter is precisely why today's zoos remain the sites of much humor, confusion, and, occasionally, danger. This book abounds with insights on wildlife (foulmouthed parrots, gum-chewing chimps, stinky flamingoes), human behavior (the fierce competition for zookeeper jobs, the well-worn shtick of tour guides), and the casualties—both animal and human—of ignorance and carelessness. Phillip Robinson shows how animal exhibits are developed and how illnesses are detected and describes the perils of working around dangerous creatures. From escaping the affections of a leopard that thought he was a lap cat to training a gorilla to hold her newborn baby gently (instead of scrubbing the floor with it) and from operating on an anesthetized elephant ("I had the insecure sensation of working under a large dump truck with a wobbly support jack") to figuring out why a zoo's polar bears were turning green in color, Life at the Zoo tells irresistible stories about zoo animals and zoo people.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231507196
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 09/08/2004
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 13 MB
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About the Author

Phillip T. Robinson directed the veterinary medical program at the San Diego Zoo for ten years. He then became director of veterinary services and animal resources at the University of California, San Diego. A founding member of the board specialty of zoological medicine of the American College of Zoological Medicine and a past president of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, he has also worked on the medical problems of animals in private collections and has been on the design team for several major zoo-animal medical facilities in the United States.

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. Intern at the Zoo: An Eclectic Orientation
2. Too Early for the Autopsy: Fitting in at the Zoo
3. Growing Pains: Educating the Menagerie Makers
4. The Keepers: Nurturing the Health of Animals
5. Zoo Babies: Promoting Motherhood
6. Exhibit Making: Creating Zoo Ecosystems
7. Creature Comfort: The Power of Microenvironments
8. What's This Thing? Searching for the Normal
9. Holding the Tiger: Zoos Say Yes to Drugs
10. Finding the Sick in the Zoo: Seeking Out Disease and Discomfort
11. Feeding the Ark: The Nutritional Wisdom of Animals
12. Getting Closer to Animals: Judas Goats and Alpaca Coats
13. So, You Work at the Zoo? Employees, Visitors, and Fence Jumpers
14. Animal Cases and Chases: And Some Things Better Kept to Myself
15. Zoo Regulars: Coworkers Without Titles
16. Ethical Captivity: Animal Well-Being in Zoos
17. What a Zoo Should Be: And Ought Not Be
Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works on Zoos
Index
Photo Credits and Attributions

What People are Saying About This

Doctor - Kurt Benirschke

From his extensive firsthand experience, Robinson describes details of his recollections as one of the early zoo veterinarians in this readable book. The history of zoos, their remarkable change over the years, and the outlook for modern zoos with emphasis on conservation are detailed unemotionally, but very accurately. Robinson touches on nutrition, the visitors, architectural designs, and many other important issues facing the zoo world today. As an early proponent of competent veterinary care and science in zoos, he is well equipped to bring his extensive experience to the reader. I highly recommend this excellent book to anyone interested at all in the complexity of animal care in zoological gardens.

Dr. Jack Hanna

Life at the Zoo is a comprehensive look at all the unique aspects of zoos -- both past and present. Dr. Robinson gives valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of the zoo world, touching on zoo keeping, animal diets, exhibit trends, and more. Life at the Zoo is a must-read for anyone considering a career with animals.

Dr. Jack Hanna, director emeritus, Columbus Zoo

' - Lester Fisher

Combines the very best in the development of zoo/wildlife medicine, zoo operation, and the evolution of the modern zoo.... Poignant and humorous.

Doctor - Jack Hanna

Life at the Zoo is a comprehensive look at all the unique aspects of zoos — both past and present. Dr. Robinson gives valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of the zoo world, touching on zoo keeping, animal diets, exhibit trends, and more. Life at the Zoo is a must-read for anyone considering a career with animals.

Dr. Kurt Benirschke

From his extensive firsthand experience, Robinson describes details of his recollections as one of the early zoo veterinarians in this readable book. The history of zoos, their remarkable change over the years, and the outlook for modern zoos with emphasis on conservation are detailed unemotionally, but very accurately. Robinson touches on nutrition, the visitors, architectural designs, and many other important issues facing the zoo world today. As an early proponent of competent veterinary care and science in zoos, he is well equipped to bring his extensive experience to the reader. I highly recommend this excellent book to anyone interested at all in the complexity of animal care in zoological gardens.

Dr. Kurt Benirschke, former president of the Zoological Society of San Diego

Lester Fisher

Combines the very best in the development of zoo/wildlife medicine, zoo operation, and the evolution of the modern zoo.... Poignant and humorous.

— '
Lester Fisher, director emeritus, Lincoln Park Zoo

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