Life in a zed & two noughts

For many, the word zoo is the filthiest word in the world, never to be spoken aloud. The staunchest zoo opponents believe “Better dying free than living in captivity.” They may be right. The zoo debate has been going on for many years. Both sides present strong arguments pro and con on extinction, conservation and captivity issues, with all their moral and logistical complexities.

On my reading list – Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Thomas French’s Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives – a behind the scenes look at a Tampa zoo, its animal and human inhabitants and the dilemmas that lie between freedom and captivity. The book features a very memorable cast:

  • Swazi 11 / the southern African elephants,
  • Herman  / the species-confused chimp,
  • Enshalla / the aging Sumatran tigeress,
  • Lex Salisbury / the zoo CEO.

I love animals. I’m fascinated by their beauty and spirit, but I completely understand those who detest zoos. Like the theme of the book itself, I’m sitting on the fence. Zoo Story is next up in my book queue. Can’t wait.

Listen to wnyc’s Leonard Lopate talk with the author.

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