Author: Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld Title: Wild lives : a history of the people & animals of the Bronx Zoo Publication Info: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2006. Summary/Review:
This is a children’s book history of the Bronx Zoo, a place I visited since childhood and have always been fascinated about it’s background. The book focuses mostly on the early days when the zoo was designed by William Temple Hornaday. Hornaday was concerned with conservation, breeding animals, and creating naturalistic settings for the exhibits. In some areas he was successful, such as donating animals to the American Bison Society to repopulate the herds on the great plains, or opening the first veterinary hospital in a zoo in 1916 (which sadly came after many animals died in captivity). Natural habitats and breeding would come later (most notably with the opening of the African Plains in 1941) although the author makes a point of these developments being built on what was learned from studying the animals in the early days of the zoo. The book makes no mention of the darker moments in the zoos history such as the leadership of Madison Grant, a notorious racial eugenicist, or the time in 1906 when Ota Benga, a man of the Mbuti people of Congo, was put on display in the zoo.
The book also focuses on the efforts of the New York Zoological Society, later the Wildlife Conservation Society, in the area of field research. This originated with William Beebe, who traveled the world observing wildlife in nature, his discoveries informing how to design exhibits and care for animals at the zoo. Later the zoo would expand to work with wildlife parks and reserves on various continents both for research and conservation. Later chapters bring updates at the zoo itself up to the end of the 20th century. The book makes a good case for why zoos remain relevant and necessary in the 21st century.
Franklin Park Zoo is part of the large Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park on the border between Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. It’s a popular destination for local families. Although it’s not a particularly great zoo compared to others I visited, it does have some strong points. One is the African Lion exhibit, once home to the late & lamented Christopher whose roars echoed through the city, and now home to the brothers Dinari and Kamaia. The premier exhibit is the Tropical Forest which is home to a troop of gorillas including the baby Azize born last May. The Franklin Farm contains a petting zoo, and we’re eagerly awaiting the opening of the new children’s zoo Nature’s Neighborhoods.
Dinari and Kamaia on their birthday.
Baby Nigerian Dwarf Goat Chewbacca rests on her mom.
Condor takes flight.
Post for “Z” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
Over the weekend, the family returned to visit the he Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, a place I’ve visited dozens of times over the course of my life, and enjoyed by previous generations of my family as well. This was a unique visit for three reasons:
It was the first ever visit for my daughter Kay
It was the first time we visited on two consecutive days
It was the first time we visited as members!
The membership was a gift of my mother, who having moved to a new home in walking distance of the zoo is ready to visit the zoo again and again with her children and grandchildren.
On Saturday we went to the Franklin Park Zoo to celebrate lion brothers Dinari and Kamaia’s seventh birthday. We missed the cake, but we saw the lions lounging in the sun. We also saw the newborn Nigerian Dwarf Goat, Chewbacca, and the dramatic flapping wings of a flying condor.
Dinari and Kamaia are very restful on their birthday.
I just started listening to a new podcast called The Specialist and the first (and so far only) episode I heard is the fascinating behind the scenes story about the staff at a zoo who prepare food for the animals. The series is described as “A podcast about work we don’t think about and the people who do it.” When I have time I’ll have to go back and listen to the earlier episodes.
On our last day in New York, we visited the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. This was a second visit for Peter, a couple of dozen visits for me, and countless more for my mother. In short, the zoo is a place we all love. Highlights include seeing baboons and ibex on hillside, sunning lions and giraffes, baby gorillas galore, and the flitter-flutter of the butterfly garden.
Pride of Baghdad (2006) by Brian K. Vaughn and Niko Henrichom is a graphic novel based on a true story of four lions escaping the Baghdad Zoo after an American bombing raid. Unfortunately the premise is better than the execution. Mind you, the illustration for this book are gorgeous in their detail, even in the grim and gory parts. In my little experience with graphic novels it seems that more time spent on the art the less the story is fleshed out in an interesting way. That seems to be the case here as the anthropomorphic big cats head out on their adventure into somewhat contrived situations and corny dialog. It’s not as bad as all that, it’s a great story, I just think it could be better. I don’t want to give things away but the most moving part for is simply the words imposed over the last two page spreads.