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Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives | [Thomas French]

Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (103 )
5 star
 (26)
4 star
 (37)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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3.6 (38 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.7 (37 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Katherine Boise, ID, United States 09-02-10
    Katherine Boise, ID, United States 09-02-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent!"

    This is one of my favorite audible books, ever. The author offers a balanced, well researched point of view, written with great style and affection for the subject. The reader is superb as well, showing feeling for the subject.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Anchorage, AK, United States 05-02-11
    Kathleen Anchorage, AK, United States 05-02-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Good Story - Bad Narrator"

    This is an interesting story of a zoo and it's inhabitants spanning several decades and continents. I wish I would have bought the hard copy and read it - it was a struggle to listen to this narrator for so many hours. His narration was monotone and sing-song (a contradiction, I know) - this made what could have been an excellent book barely acceptable. After the first 10 minutes I seriously considered contacting customer service to ask for my credit back. But I did persevere and the story was worth it in the end. It was heartbreaking at the end so be forewarned.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon GLEN ELLEN, CA, United States 04-14-12
    Sharon GLEN ELLEN, CA, United States 04-14-12 Member Since 2012

    I am a lifelong lover of books. I got my degree in English & worked in the publishing business for many years. Now I work with wildlife.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mixed feelings about zoos did not change"

    As someone who works with wildlife, I have had mixed feelings about zoos for a long time, so I thought this book would appeal to me - and it did. There are many stories about animals, but it was also the stories about the people who work with them that made this interesting. I thought John Allen Nelson was a good narrator for this story.

    The story of the elephants that were captured in the wild in Africa and brought to the zoo in Florida was fascinating. It really turned me off at first, but then these elephants would have been culled if they had stayed in Africa. Generally I don't feel that zoos should take animals from the wild, and I don't feel that elephants in particular should be in zoos at all. Still, if people can't see elephants, how do they know what it is we are trying to save? It is a tricky question.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia alpharetta, GA, United States 11-27-10
    Sylvia alpharetta, GA, United States 11-27-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Loved the story, learned a lot!"

    My book club choose this book and I very much enjoyed it. Great story, non fiction so I learned a ton and really made me look at zoos in a whole new way. I highly recommend this listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    menary kitchen 10-16-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "enjoyable listen"

    as it was written in a biography style, it could easily be overlooked on a shelf. i think that the reader made the difference. it was interesting and entertaining

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CJ Houston, TX, United States 06-18-12
    CJ Houston, TX, United States 06-18-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Not An Interest Grabber"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I'm still trying to get through it. I was captivated in the beginning with the story of the elephants in Africa, but the rest of the book is pretty much a snooze-fest.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Probably not.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Sisk San Francisco 06-10-12
    A. Sisk San Francisco 06-10-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The complicated world of zoos"
    What did you love best about Zoo Story?

    This was a very exciting book, which explores the complicated relationship of zoos to conservation and the blurry grey areas of good and bad zoo keeping, and the problem of wild natural animals in civilized engineered human spaces. I really enjoyed the book and was pleased that it was very balanced in how zoos are good and bad.


    What other book might you compare Zoo Story to and why?

    Monsters of God By David Quamman


    What about John Allen Nelson’s performance did you like?

    it was not annoying. Nothing worse than a narrator who has an annoying voice.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    It had me from the beginning, when they were transporting a herd of elephants on a plane.I cried several times throughout the book.


    Any additional comments?

    This book answers many questions and raises some as well, as far as how humans deal with and preserve animals.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Columbia, sc, United States 06-04-12
    Barbara Columbia, sc, United States 06-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    Story
    "Great Listen. Elephants can pick locks!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anastasia Dallas, TX, United States 02-20-12
    Anastasia Dallas, TX, United States 02-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A very good Zoo Story"
    What made the experience of listening to Zoo Story the most enjoyable?

    The story was just that - a story about a Zoo and all the fabulous animals.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Durham, NC, United States 10-02-10
    Barbara Durham, NC, United States 10-02-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Semi-warm and -cuddly"

    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?

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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