Welcome to the savage and surprising world of Zoo Story, an unprecedented account of the secret life of a zoo and its inhabitants, both animal and human. Based on six years of research, the book follows a handful of unforgettable characters at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo: an alpha chimp with a weakness for blondes, a ferocious tiger who revels in Obsession perfume, and a brilliant but tyrannical CEO known as El Diablo Blanco.
Zoo Story crackles with issues of global urgency: the shadow of extinction, humanity's role in the destruction or survival of other species. More than anything else, though, it's a dramatic and moving true story of seduction and betrayal, exile and loss, and the limits of freedom on an overcrowded planet - all framed inside one zoo reinventing itself for the 21st century.
Thomas French, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, chronicles the action with vivid power: Wild elephants soaring above the Atlantic on their way to captivity. Predators circling each other in a lethal mating dance. Primates plotting the overthrow of their king. The sweeping narrative takes the listener from the African savannah to the forests of Panama and deep into the inner workings of a place some describe as a sanctuary and others condemn as a prison.
All of it comes to life in the book's four-legged characters. Zoo Story shows us how these remarkable individuals live, how some die, and what their experiences reveal about the human desire to both exalt and control nature.
©2010 Thomas French (P)2010 Tantor
"The book captures the fascination humans have with animals, and vice versa, and raises questions about the purpose and management of zoos." (Kirkus)
"A thoughtful and moving but unsentimental portrait of life in captivity and a broad introduction to some of its most salient—and intractable—dilemmas." (Publishers Weekly)
Listened to this while painting a room. Time flew by and the next thing I knew room was done. Who knew elephants are so intelligent? Balanced portrayal of the ups and downs of the Tampa Zoo.
The book had some very compelling anecdotes about animals being torn from their habitats and the subsequent life in the zoo. That was reasonably entertaining but I was left wondering about the author's point of view: If, as he demonstrated so clearly, the habitats are no longer safe, where else should these beautiful creatures go but to the zoos -- of which he has made us way?
Zoos = conservationists? I don't buy it. Suffering, not death, is the worst thing that can happen to these animals. There's clear evidence they suffer in zoos and how often do these majestic creatures end up in circuses, where they suffer even more?
I looked forward to learning about the animals and about how well they are cared for in a zoo environment. What a disappointment.
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