Empowering Discussions

Book Review: Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

I recommend this book to anyone who loves zoos, hates zoos, or is on the fence about zoos. It takes an inside look at what life is like for both the animals in captivity and the keepers.  “Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives”, by Brian French begins at an animal reserve in Africa and takes readers to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Florida.  The author is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who does a good job of reporting both sides of the story. Whether talking about people, animals or politics I didn’t feel as if the author was particularly swaying me in one direction or another. He asked questions and brought up important issues such as the impact of enslaving animals, how humans have destroyed so much wilderness, the double edge sword of conservation, and the moral ethics of taking animals out of their natural habitat.

The moral issue of enslaving animals, Zoo Story by Thomas French, book about animals

It’s not possible to honestly tell a story through an animals voice since we cannot communicate directly with them.  Still I felt varying emotions as I read about different mammals, reptiles, and birds. There was Herman, the chimp brought up in a human family and then donated to the zoo. His family returned often to visit him. A mishmash herd of elephants journey from living in nature to captivity.  Enshala, the tiger whose life was filled with tragedy and beauty. The people were just as intriguing with their habit of  subconsciously and consciously imitating animals characteristics and becoming attached to particular ones. Births and deaths are a common occurrence for the animals and uncommonly for the human keepers.

Have you read this book?

 If so what was your opinion?

What is a great book about animals?

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