Tuesday, October 19, 2010

134 - Zoo Story; Thomas French








Thomas French, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the St. Petersburg Times has written an eye opening book about zoos, well at least one zoo in particular. In Zoo Story,  French focuses his attention on the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida.  Not only does the author reveal what life is like for the animals in captivity, but he also focuses of the politic and, power plays involved in zoo operations, which were not always in the best interest of the animals. The former CEO, Lex Salisbury, AKA El Diablo Blanco (White Devil), was forced to resign in 2008. This particular zoo in Tampa,  was shut down in the 1980s due to horrific conditions. It was reopened and transformed years later, but one must ask the question -- at what cost to both the animals and the staff?

The story begins with (11) elephants from a herd in Swaziland, South Africa being air lifted in a Boeing 747. Traveling from South Africa to Tampa, Florida, the new home for the majority of this group, at a cost of $12,000 per elephant. Tranquillized and traveling in cages on this long journey alone stirred up much controversy from animal rights advocates, debating the merits of living in one's natural habitat, despite overpopulation, versus the new contained environment created at the zoo. Elephants from the herd are often slaughtered to contain overpopulation, and  because of a shortage of food.

This book was very informative, and the six year's of research conducted by the author shows. I liked the fact that he told it as he saw it, and it is clear that he did not sugar coat anything.  The book held my attention throughout, however, I felt the story was too focused on zoo operations and management for my taste. I did not realize this would be the case when I began the book. I was hoping to learn a lot more about the lives of the animals in captivity there, than I did.  Despite this, the book is solid, and would probably appeal to most people with a genuine interest in animal welfare. RECOMMENDED
Rating - 4/5 stars - Library Book

15 comments:

  1. This one does sound interesting but I might hesitate for all of the background zoo information. I'm glad that you felt that it didn't detract from the story though. If I saw this one at the library I just might check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a feeling this book would upset me!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are right, it would have been more interesting if there was more info on the animals... I would like that as well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the cover on this book, but I think the contents would upset me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That looks like a unique and interesting book, but I do think I would feel too upset when reading it. Sometimes I wish I had a little thicker skin!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm not interested in zoo operations, but the behind the scenes info about the animals piques my interest.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Like Kathy, I feel that this book would probably be very upsetting to me, though I am really intrigued about it. I have protested going to the circus on many occasions because I just don't like the fact that the animals are trapped there and forced to perform. I go to the zoo very infrequently as well and feel that it's not really right for these animals to be taken from their homes and pent up like that. Don't even get me started on all the animals at the aquatic parks! I do think that this would be an interesting read, but I am sure it would make me cringe at times. Great review on this one!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I must admit to not being very fond of zoos and the way the animals are kept,so I may avoid this one. I know things are getting better, it just bothers me that the spaces they live in are so small and confined.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with Staci, I might not want to read this if I learn about all the sad happenings in zoos but am happy you didn't feel this was a distraction.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have this and plan on reading it pretty soon. I got it (well, actually I convinced Mr. Jenners to get it) because we've been to that zoo quite a few times and really enjoy it. I was so curious to see the "inside" story.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the fair review. I think maybe that's what the book is trying to achieve when they dwell into zoo management? I would like a balanced view about the animals and also the zoo.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yeah, I guess Alice Teh is right...it is called Zoo Story. lol. But I agree with you, it had way too much about the management of the zoo, specifically - for me - the conflicts between management and keepers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I lived in Tampa - and I know the Lowry Park Zoo very well...I didn't live very far from it.

    It was run by the City's Parks and Recreation Dept.

    I would love to read this book - you aren't by chance giving it away, are you???

    Also - French wrote a really good story about a murder in a small town right near St. Petersburg, Fla.

    He used to write for the newspaper!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This sounds like it would be informative about both aspects, but I agree that learning about the animals interests me more.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.