Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review: Zoo Story

I just finished a book called ZOO STORY by author Thomas French. I loved this book. I've always had a love for animals of all kinds and love seeing them in their natural settings and love seeing them even at zoos. Many a time when visiting zoos I felt bad for some of the larger animals in the unspoken word "cages". It didn't feel right or fair for them to be stuck there but you give it a moment's thought and move onto the next exhibit and the rest of ur day and don't really think about it again unless it's a passing thought. 

The book basically takes you behind the scenes of a zoo called Lowry Park in Tampa, Florida. It dives into the difficult issue of the truths, difficulties, benefits and challenges of keeping wild animals in captivity. It was downright fascinating to say the least and I learned a great deal. One of the reviews of the book is true - I can never visit another zoo again without recounting the images and stories from this book and the plight of most of the animals there. 

One of the best parts of this book was the way it was written. The author is a journalist and writes for newspapers and teaches journalism at a university now. The writing was excellent. The way he described the conditions of the zoos and what the animals could be thinking or how humans interfered with their lives really made u feel for each party involved and made u feel like u were right there. As a writer you tend to take a tone with which "side" u agree or disagree with and I feel his tone was most definitely clear that he disapproved of the way in which certain animals were kept in the zoo and the way in which it's CEO (for 20 years) ran the place. Even when he put a spin on the events, he still raised room for questioning each side and gave u plenty to think about. Should we support the institution of zoos which help to save certain animals and educate our society and young children about animals and have a first hand exposure to them even if this means they're being held against their will or should we leave these wild animals be in their natural habitat even if this means they are subject of mass killings by the country in which they live due to their overpopulation and running rampant in the wild and causing mass destruction wherever they go. 
Accurately, the author says it's the animals that get caught in this struggle between protection and control. Surprisingly, I found myself on one side of the table before reading this book and throughout reading I was constantly questioning my thoughts and feelings on the subject. It is simply fascinating and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a love for animals.


  1. Wow, I have to read that, especially since I was just at Lowry Park 6 months ago, and most probably will be back in the next year or so. I've always had those feelings of sadness for the animals in big cages or in chains, it's a great zoo, but I have to ask, what prompted you to read this of all books? It's been so long since I read a book, sad to say, probably about 4 years ago. So embarassing!

  2. Sonya - i know the feeling. it takes me an embarrassing amount of time to finish a book but like the blog, it is something for ME and just me and i need it. it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day or when the babies nap. even if i am dead tired and it means i don't check email for days, i will take 10 mins at night to read a bit. takes forever to finish but it's important to me. it's so easy to get stuck in the rut with the kids - i don't want to lose myself even tho i really feel it happening. reading and learning about something other than potty training or baby milestones etc makes me feel like i'm enriching MYSELF - what a concept. i found this book on one of my iphone ibooks apps. i was reading a bunch of stuff on my phone while nursing and said this book i need to read in REAL LIFE so i got it from the library. it's so very worth it. i promise u won't be disappointed. pick it up and dive in. it is so excellently written.

  3. Hey Candy (Mama Lion),

    Thanks for your recent visit! This book sounds like such a worthwhile read. I too have found that journalists often write excellent books.

    I went to Sea World in San Diego a few years back and was mortified! Caging animals is horrible. Making them perform tricks even worse. I think wild game reserves like in Africa are the way to go.

    I think those are 2 lucky kids to have a Mom like you to get them started in life!

  4. hi stickup artist! :) thanks so much for ur kind comments. So interesting u went to the san diego zoo. in the book, the 11 elephants that were transported from swaziland africa came to the lowry park zoo in tampa and the others went to teh san diego zoo. if u went recently (since 2003) and remember seeing elephants, those elephants are from africa and were the subject of the book!