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We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever Hardcover – September 9, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Between his wife Katherine's diagnosis of glioblastoma and her quiet death less than three years later, Mee (The Call of DIY), his siblings and his mother bought a bedraggled zoo, complete with decaying buildings, a ragtag group of animals, an eclectic staff and a reputation that had been quickly going to the wolves. In this occasionally charming (to his children: Quiet. Daddy's trying to buy a zoo) but overly wordy book, Mee writes about caring for his dying wife and their two young children, dealing with Code Red emergencies (when a dangerous animal escapes its confines), hiring staff, learning about his new two- and four-footed charges and setting his sights on refurbishing his zoo into a sanctuary for breeding and raising endangered animals. Mee tends to meander with too-long explanations for one-sentence points, and the awe he feels about each individual animal is repetitive. Coupled with Britishisms that are never explained and a curious lack of varied wild animal stories, this book that was obviously meant to make animal lovers roar with pleasure will only make them whine with frustration. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When writer Mee’s father died, his mother needed to sell the house and move to a smaller place—so the entire family decided to buy a zoo. Mee’s sister had seen an advertisement for the sale of the Dartmoor Wildlife Park, a small zoo in Devonshire in the southwest of England. After a long series of negotiations, licensing snafus, and the inevitable family conflicts, the author, his mother, and his brother moved into the park’s rundown house and started running a zoo. Though they owned the grounds and its 200 animals outright, they still had to pay 20 staff members, feed the animals, and upgrade the grounds. During the first week, a jaguar escaped, and the author and his brother began to realize what they’d gotten themselves into. Through eradicating the plague of rats, clearing out years of rubbish to reveal usable buildings, and battling with banks for operating expenses, the author and his staff gradually pulled the zoo back from the brink of closure. The emotional appeal of the zoo’s rescue is wonderfully limned in Mee’s practical, good-humored prose. --Nancy Bent
Top customer reviews
The story is absolutely beautiful...great for all members of the family. It also invokes many different emotions and provides opportunity to have in depth discussions with the kiddos about several topics.
Great read...would highly recommend.
That being said, it's still a good read. Detailed are the specific struggles financially and with government authorities to make the zoo a viable working operation. Also, we see countless examples of Benjamin Mee learning the animal/zoo business through actual trials he and the zoo had to face. Moreover, he relays to the reader the human element of his wife's illness and the variety of characters who comprised the zoo personnel.