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Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives Hardcover – July 6, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401323464
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323462
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

French knows the Lowry Park Zoo story better than anyone else, and his writing on the subject is engaging and instructive, particularly when he describes the behind-the-scenes politics that determines what 175 million Americans see every year on their visits. French adroitly mixes the sordid details of Lowry Park with a "big-picture" approach, avoiding the finger-pointing and polemic that so often accompanies discussions of zoos. The most difficult thing about reading Zoo Story is coming to terms with some hard truths about wildlife conservation--for example, are possible solutions worse than the problem? "All zoos, even the most enlightened," French points out, "are built upon an idea both beguiling and repellent--the notion that we seek out the wildness of the world and behold its beauty, but that we must first contain that wildness."

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 65 customer reviews
Zoo Story brings you into the world of the Lowery Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida.
Lionel Nosenchuck
A very well written book, it combines both facts about the animals as well as emotional stories.
N. Bartol
If you have a love of animals, this book will really open your eyes to the ways of a zoo.
Nayslove

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Jacqui Banaszynski on July 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you ever went to the zoo as a kid or parent, if you've ever had a pet or debated animal rights with friends, if you ever watched office (or life) politics and wondered why people behave the way they do, you'll find insights galore in Tom French's stunning "Zoo Story." French, a world-class reporter and storyteller, goes inside one zoo to tell us a much bigger story about man and beast, about man's impact on the natural world, about the real meaning of "wild," about social dynamics, and so much more. He writes with the speed and grace of the antelope, the quirky character of the monkey, the power of the tiger, and the wisdom of the elephant. He also, for you journalists out there, footnotes his reporting in a way that is an education all its own.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By This is Me on August 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful and interestingly unique read! I was wonderfully absorbed and could not put this book down. I bought two more copies to share with others and notified my library to please recommend it highly. I loved it! It broke my heart, made me laugh, taught me so many interesting thigs, and I will have a new-found respect for zoo-keepers next time I go. As a general rule, I avoid zoo's like the plague, as I am on the side of not keeping these animals held prisoner. However, I will visit the zoo in this book....I just have to!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Franklin Baer on July 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book will surely tug at your heartstrings, while also making you think. It'll make you more thoughtfully consider zoos and what they do, whether you love or hate them. This is an unbiased look at the balance between conservation and captivity, and it makes one think about the environment and our responsibility to it and to animals. An important book.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Weinstein on August 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yeah, it's brilliantly reported, and true it deals with Big Issues, but Zoo Story is far more than that. It's a really good story. If you want a compelling tale with interesting characters, tautly told, get it. The extra-special bonus: It'll make you think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer VINE VOICE on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always felt conflicted about zoos. On the one hand, I enjoy seeing the animals up close and personal. On the other hand, I always feel guilty. No matter how big or "friendly" their habitat, I still feel a bit melancholy when I see magnificent wild animals living their lives in such an unnatural way. Then I try to make myself feel better by telling myself that they might be better off in a zoo--safe from poachers and other dangers found in the wild. In short, like many others, I have a love/hate relationship with zoos. So when I saw journalist Thomas French's book, Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives, that purported to give an inside look at Tampas' Lowry Park Zoo, I snapped it up immediately.

In addition to my curiosity about the inner workings of a zoo, I was also drawn to this book because we visited Lowry Park Zoo several times, and I always enjoy reading about places I've been to in real life. I was able to picture many of the places he described--and remember watching the baby elephant whose conception and birth is described in the book.

This book tells many stories--including the rise and fall of the zoo's controversial CEO Lex Salisbury to the reign and tragic ends of the zoo's "king" and "queen" (Herman the Orangutan and Enshalla the Tiger). The book opens with the transport of a group of elephants from Swaziland, Africa to Florida. Using the acquisition and journey of the elephants to highlight some of the issues and controversies surrounding zoos, French highlights the reasons why so many of us are conflicted about zoos.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By N. Bartol on August 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I like zoos. Sorry to be so simple, but I liked them when I was a child, and now as a parent, I still enjoy going there and pointing out the different types of animals to my children. This book details all the red tape, along with the commitment of the zoo keepers, it takes to bring different species to the zoo and how to handle to them once they are there. Many of us see the elephants, but we do not see the story behind how they got there and do not realize the caring and dedication of the people behind the scenes. I enjoyed reading about the relationships between the animals and their caretakers. A very well written book, it combines both facts about the animals as well as emotional stories. Highly recommended for any one who enjoys a visit to the zoo - you will think twice about the animals that are on display.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Marquez on July 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I can't say enough good things about this book. I read it in three days--it's impossible to put down. The prose are beautiful and the characters touching. A great summer read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By AvidReader on July 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Highly recommended for animal lovers, armchair philosophers, and people who just love good nonfiction. A moving and remarkable story that really makes you think. Beautifully told.
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