What is the real purpose of zoos and are we really doing the best we can to preserve the species in them? The answers are as complex as the animals and keepers themselves. French explores these issues in this emotional, journalistic story. — Krysta Piccoli
August 2010 Indie Next List
“French takes us to Swaziland to witness the rescue of 11 elephants from certain death and their transport to zoos in Tampa and San Diego. In Tampa, where four of the elephants are placed, we become closely acquainted with the management and staff who work at Lowry Park Zoo. Both the animals and humans are unforgettable, and we learn of the age-old controversy over whether zoos truly provide education and conservation of species, or whether they exist solely for entertainment and earnings. My next visit to a zoo will be an entirely different experience having read this incredibly informative and controversial book.”
— Sue Fleming, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT
"This story, told by a master teller of such things, does more than take you inside the cages, fences, and walls of a zoo. It takes you inside the human heart, and an elephant's, and a primate's, and on and on. Tom French did in this book what he always does. He took real life and wrote it down for us, with eloquence and feeling and aching detail." -Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author
"An insightful and detailed look at the complex life of a zoo and its denizens, both animal and human." -Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi and Beatrice and Virgil
Welcome to the savage and surprising world of Zoo Story, an unprecedented account of the secret life of a zoo and its inhabitants. Based on six years of research, the book follows a handful of unforgettable characters at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo: an alpha chimp with a weakness for blondes, a ferocious tiger who revels in Obsession perfume, and a brilliant but tyrannical CEO known as El Diablo Blanco.
The sweeping narrative takes the reader from the African savannah to the forests of Panama and deep into the inner workings of a place some describe as a sanctuary and others condemn as a prison. Zoo Story shows us how these remarkable individuals live, how some die, and what their experiences reveal about the human desire to both exalt and control nature.
About the Author
Thomas French has been a reporter at the St. Petersburg Times for the past 27 year. He is the author of two books and won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for Angels & Demons, a seven-part series detailing the the murders of Jo, Michelle and Christe Rogers and the eventual capture of the murderer, Oba Chandler.