Friday, January 21, 2011

"Zoo Story: Life In the Garden Of Captives" by Thomas French

Zoo Story by Thomas French is a documentary about Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.  It gives the reader a behind-the-scenes look at the struggles of zoo directors, zookeepers, and the animals in captivity have.  By reading Zoo Story, I learned some interesting facts about elephants, chimpanzees, seahorses, frogs, monkeys, and tigers.  Zoo Story shares both funny and sad stories about the zoo, including how dangerous it can be to be a zookeeper.  Zookeepers put in long hours for little pay, but the benefit is that they become attached to the animals in their care and develop relationships with them.  My favorite part was the story of Herman, the chimpanzee, and getting a peek at what it’s really like being a zookeeper. 
Here is a quote that stood out to me:
Against all this logic, some staff members still wished sometimes there was some way they could let the animals go.
“Any good keeper absolutely feels a guilty conscience,” a veteran on the staff confided one evening after Lowry Park was closed.   “‘There are definitely days when you walk in and you look at the animals, and you say, “I wish they didn’t have to be here.’”  p. 59
Although not a “page-turner,” Zoo Story is a worthwhile read if you like animals and enjoy visiting zoos like us.  I just skipped over the boring parts about PETA and some of the other political details.  It seems as though certain groups are completely against zoos in general and just look for things to pick at.  Overall, I enjoyed Zoo Story and have a better understanding about conservation.  
(Karen's review)

What a wonderful book!  Zoo Story by Thomas French is the story of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.  You will just love the stories Thomas French tells about the animals and the humans in charge of taking care of them.  I loved this book!  If you are an animal lover and like going to the zoo, this is the book for you!  Great read!

Karen and I are both members of the Cleveland Zoo and go often.  My favorite animal is the tiger and Karen's is the red panda and the monkeys.  This book gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo.  There is so much to zoos that we don't see.  I learned a lot more about animals and also about zookeepers when I read Zoo Story.
(Gerard's review July 2009)

What is your favorite zoo animal?   

Here are some posts we did about our Cleveland zoo you may enjoy:


  1. I just read and reviewed this book too ... it is eye-opening and informative about zoos. It made me want to read more books about this topic. Glad you live near such a good zoo!

  2. I did not know what to expect -- would French be an apologist for zoos or a champion of the caged? While an animal rights proponent, I was not necessarily disappointed that I'm still not sure -- he did a good job of riding the fence which a good reporter should do. He does present a false dilemma that we either have zoos or we lose species -- these are not the only two options, however. The best option is to begin depopulating the humans destroying the habitat of endangered animals.


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