Zoo Story

Zoo Story

Life in the Garden of Captives

Book - 2010
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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 twenty-first 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 reader 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. Even animal lovers will be startled by the emotional charge of these creatures' histories, which read as though they were co-written by Dickens and Darwin.

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.
Publisher: New York : Huperion, 2010.
ISBN: 9781401323462
Characteristics: 288 p. ;,25 cm.


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Apr 14, 2017

Well-written and even-handed book about Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, which went from 32 animals to roughly 2000 in about 20 yrs. Growth like this is bound to have problems, and this zoo was no exception. There was a keeper death, the escape of a tiger, leading to the tiger's death, an evidently preventable death of an alpha chimp, and the ultimate termination (OK, he was given the choice of resigning or being fired and he chose the former) of a charismatic zoo director for conflicts of interest that centered around starting up a for-profit safari park while being the director of a nonprofit zoo. On the other hand, the zoo appears to have an excellent manatee recovery program for injured or sick manatees and at least at one time, was lauded for its children's programs. The author, a newspaper journalist, does a nice job of exploring the dichotomy presented by zoos, how zookeepers feel about their jobs, and the consequences of keeping a primate as a pet (don't do it). All in all an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

Jan 14, 2016

I wanted to read this because I am against animals in zoos. And I thought it would be only fair to see the zoo's side. This book highlights one of the top 10 zoos in the USA and it softened my stance on captives in a good zoo. However, it is still has faults as a couple of animals died needlessly at the Tampa Lawry zoo. And many zoos are woefully inadequate in the USA and around the world. I dislike the use of the word "conservation" in anything but the natural home of animals and zoos are no exception. And, unfortunately, this has set a precedence of record number of elephants from Zimbabwe to be shipped to China where they are now suffering. Elephants in this story is also from Zimbabwe. The politics of this is far and wide.
The novel is engaging and especially because it is extremely factual and well researched. Anyone reading a novel like this should also read Anthony Lawrence and Daphne Sheldrick to round out their understanding of the controversial capture and killing of animals.

Sep 03, 2015

I actually found this book at a dollar store, picked it up as it looked interesting... and it was VERY interesting! I expected it to be a sob story "poor animals behind bars" but it was a fascinating look at the true day to day behind the scenes of the actual running of a zoo, and all the mistakes made by the one zoo it was written about (Lowry Park in Florida). It was quite fascinating to read!

Jul 06, 2012

Fascinating, even-handed, in-depth account of zoo life, zoo expansion, animal acquisition, animal conservation and controversy, and zoo politics. Focusing on the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida, the author takes us from Swaziland to the political boardroom. Along the way, we come to know animals as personalities, and people exhibiting animal-like characteristics.

You don't need to have a previous interest in the topic to be engaged by this page-turner. Read it now before someone decides to make a movie of it.

m2 Jan 11, 2011

Really well written and reported story about the transformation of the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL. Facinating -- and the author made sure to raise all the philosophical questions of animal captivity and also the status of animals in the wild. Would make a good book club book -- lots to talk about. Highly recommend it.

Nov 08, 2010

Excellant, interesting till the end

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