We Bought a Zoo, A Memoir
Weinstein Books, 2008
This memoir chronicles the adventures of a family (mom, adult children, spouses, grandchildren) who pool their resources to buy a zoo. Why? Why not? The zoo is pretty rundown and what animals can’t be rehomed will have to be shot so the Mee family is getting quite a challenge.
The book covers the time period of just before the Mee’s become aware of the zoo until just after opening day. During those few years, the author’s wife, Katherine, battles cancer twice, losing the second time. He writes of struggling with the loss of his wife while trying to get the zoo up to code and briefly of his children and how they are coping. He writes of the frequent promises of money by different banks and how they almost always changed their mind; how he had to play peacemaker between long-time employees and new ones; and how he stood up for certain animals when the general consensus was that they should die because: a. too old; b. too many; c. not enough room; or d. not exotic enough. In all of those cases the animals were saved and rehomed successfully.
We saw the movie before we read the book and in this case we liked the book much better! You know how movies are – they can’t include everything in a book because of production costs, etc. The book is very well written with just enough technical and financial woes to keep the reader interested but not so much to make you depressed. Of course the most exciting parts are about the animals – the various escapes (by Sovereign the jaguar and a wolf), close calls (transporting a tiger who suddenly wakes up while being stretchered to a waiting crate) and veterinary issues (an elderly bear with tooth issues and the alpha wolf with cancer). This is an excellent book for someone who wants to know more about how zoos run or for anyone who loves reading about exotic animals!!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because of the dedication of all the zoo employees who worked for the good of the animals!!
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge 2015 category: Read a book that became a MOVIE. Did you see the movie? It was really good!
These photos are from their Facebook page –