Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zamba” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  791 ratings  ·  95 reviews
When Ralph Helfer, now one of Hollywood's top animal behaviorists, first began working, he was shocked by the cruelty that was accepted practice in the field. He firmly believed in "affection training" -- that love, not fear, should be the basis of any animal's development, even when dealing with the most dangerous of creatures. Then Zamba came into his life -- an adorable ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published July 1st 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,925)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Bark's Book Nonsense
I enjoyed this book much more than Modoc because it seems truer a story. As much as I enjoyed Modoc it read like a smashing together of events contrived by author Helfer.

Some backstory here, Helfer didn't come across Modoc the elephant until her later years and when he wrote the book telling about her life he recreated her past story based on interviews and, dare I say it, his own imagination. So parts of that book read like a fairytale to me. This one seems filled with true emotion and even th
I loved this book. I first got turned on to Ralph Helfer when I read his book Modoc. I loved Modoc and it sparked me to read up on Helfer. Turns out he is an animal behaviorist who firmly believs in and practices "affection training" with animals. His career began at a time where most trainers believed the only way to train an animal was by using fear-based methods. Ralph proved his affection training theory by raising Zamba the lion. Basically, Zamba is the story of a lion (named zamba) who was ...more
One of the best books I have read in my whole life!!!

Zamba is a lion cub who is taken in by Ralph Helfer, the author. This story explains the bond between the two and their encounters throughout Zamba's lifetime. Ralph also tells about his Affection Training Theory and how Zamba helps to prove this method the way to train animals.

If you liked this book youi might also try:

Modoc:The True Story Of The Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer
Wesley The Owl by Stacy O'Brien
April Hochstrasser
After such a stunning book as Modoc, I expected the same from Zamba. However, it was very preachy, about training animals with affection rather than fear, and very self-agrandizing for the author to make the claims that he did. Not much content, especially compared to Modoc. I wouldn't waste my time.
Such a beautiful story of a true relationship with a man and a lion. It is a book that you won't want to put down. Needless to say, the end is a tear jerker.
Pemi Ludi
Buku ini berdasarkan kisah nyata penulisnya. Kisah tentang singa yang diperlakukan dengan kasih sayang oleh pemiliknya, Ralph Helfer seorang animal behaviourist, sehingga menjadi singa yang jinak dan sangat bersahabat dengan manusia.

Zamba, nama singa itu, didapatkan Ralph dari seorang teman lamanya pada umur dua bulan setelah ditemukan sekarat di pinggir sungai di Afrika. Ralph Helfer yang sangat ingin membuktikan teorinya tentang pendidikan dengan kasih sayang terhadap binatang merasa lewat Zam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The author, a pioneer in what he calls “affection training” of animals, runs an exotic animal ranch, working with movies and television that require animal stunts. He details how he raised a lion, Zamba, from a cub, not merely as a tamed animal or even a pet but a true member of the family. Zamba stars in a couple of movies and many ads, but Helfer talks mainly about the metaphysical bond he and the lion had, their trip to Africa to shoot a film, and the tragic storm that destroyed his ranch.

Melissa Conner
For Ralph Helfer, working with animals has always been a lifelong dream. Starting out working in a small pet shop, Helfer learned all about the cruelties and abuse that can happen while training and working with animals. Vowing to make a difference any way he knew how, Helfer made it a mission to do whatever he could to change the way animals were treated both in private conditions and in and on the farms of those who raised wild animals for commercial gain.

Now one of Hollywood’s top animal beha
I am more than a little disappointed by this book. I've slowly read my way through all the stories of Africa USA over the years (it would not be a stretch to say I am a zookeeper today because of Helfer's wife's book!), and I've loved them all along. Perhaps that is part of the problem with this book -- there's not really anything new here, just a retelling of the same story (unlike the others which had largely new material in each). Being involved in the exotic industry myself now for several y ...more
Sophie Holin
"Zamba: the True Story of the Greatest Lion That Ever Lived" is a book narrated by an animal trainer, Ralph Helfer, who uses love instead of fear to control his animals. He adopts a cub lion from Africa, names him Zamba, and spends the next 18 years on many adventures with him. Zamba acts out scenes for advertisements and movies including one that was to be shot in Africa. Half the book is about their adventures on the East coast of Africa, shooting the movie. Finally Helfer ties it together in ...more
Zamba-A True Story of The Greatest Lion That Ever Lived by Ralph Hefler, is one of the most interesting books that I have ever read because of its incredibly touching story line, the messages that emerge from the book, and the novel is also full of emotional adventure. This book gives an excellent insight of why it is extremely important to train animals based on "love not fear" which is referred to as "affection training"- a term Ralph Hefler created and demonstrated. This is one of the main t ...more
This book should be titled, "Ralph Helfer: The True Story of the Greatest Lion Tamer That Ever Lived". It was preachy, conceited, juvenile, moronic, and down-right stupid. I don't care how much you train a lion, it is still a lion. They are wild and dangerous and I would never let my kids that close to one.

Also, I found it very insulting the way he portrayed people who hunt. I think it was very unfair and childish and untrue. His portrayal of his Charles Dickens-ianesque villianious Uncle was o
This is the true story of a lion who was raised from a cub and lived his entire life with Ralph Heller, his owner. He starred in movies and TV shows, but he also slept on the bed (one specially made to accommodate both lion and human) and rode int he car (a convertible, resulting in head-turning!)

This book was an enjoyable and easy read, and surprisingly good considering Heller's first book, Modoc, about an elephant, was not nearly as interesting. I think the difference is that in Zamba he is wr
Jill M
I found this book to be written at a child's level, but the writing style isn't the point. The story resonates with any animal lover because it is true testament to the effects of practicing loving kindness with animals and receiving the benefits of those relationships in return. Although the story is very moving, I am somewhat hesitant to give it a higher rating because I am aware of the atrocities of the exotic animal industry. Having volunteered for a wildcat sanctuary, I've seen what can hap ...more
Sally Nguyen
I loved his book. I really enjoyed the tale of ralph helfer and zamba. The book is very heartwarming. Zamba is about an animal trainer, Ralph Helfer, training a 4 month old lion cub. Ralph Helfer has his theories on how to train animals. Ralph uses the “affection training” method. What that means is that he used love and affection to help animals. So this method works because its better than being afraid of the animals and the animals being afraid of us. So pretty much this book is about a warmh ...more
Odette Knappers
This book touched my heart, it made me cry. But I am a cat lover and it is about a really big cat.. I think every catlover dreams of interaction with a lion like he has interaction with his own cat.
Well, I loved the story about Zamba itself, but the author made the whole thing a bit too spiritual for me. He was rambling a lot about the contact with nature as being a true sign of the existence of a higher being, etc... and kind of lost me there. The whole chapter about the spiritual reading of some African wise guy was also not my cup of tea.

I did like the story itself and think it is really fascinating that one can keep an adult male lion as a pet; letting him share your bed, watch cartoo
Colleen Rue
I love all cats,wild and tame,so I knew I had to read about Zamba.I'd never heard of his story until I was browsing for a book to read at my library.Zamba really is the greatest lion that ever lived.Mr. Helfer tells all about his lions great,long life,his acting career,and how he changed the Helfer families life.I was surprised to find out that Zamba portrayed the lion Fluffy in the Tony Randall movie of the same name."Fluffy" has been one of my favorite movies since my youth.Go read about Zamba ...more
I love this dude, Helfer. He has a way in his writing of bringing out the souls of these animals.
Was another great book by the author but I have to say I liked Modoc better
The parts of this book that intrigued me the most were obviously anything that had to do with actually raising and living with a lion. I thought that Helpher was a bit absorbed in the whole 'communication between man and nature' bit and I found it to be a bit preachy... aside from the fact that the style was extremely amateurish. I hated how he would often end paragraphs with 4-5 questions intended to make one ponder and self-evaluate. Blah. I assume that this is why I enjoyed 'Modoc' so much mo ...more
I wanted this book to be so much better than it was. I loved Modoc so I guess I was thinking it would be more similar to that. I know some fundamentals of animal training and it bothered me all of this talk of affection training. It is positive reinforcement. The old way was just punishment. Also it bothers me when people start talking about being one with nature and all of that on a crazy level. It was just a lot of spiritual mumbo jumbo through the whole thing. I don't know, I was just really ...more
Of course, it ends as a tearjerker with me sitting on the couch clutching my beloved cat to my chest as Zamba's story comes to a close.

Lots of detail and life breathed into the story. I felt like I was there through the African safari and the great flood. There were quite a number of times that I laughed out loud!! Great story about a wonderful lion who has graced many films and television shows.
Dee Toomey
Zamba...the story of a man and his lion. But yet, this is a story of more then that. This is the story of kindred spirits, of uncondiitonal love, and of what life will be like when, indeed, one day, "the lion will lay down with the lamb". Ralph Helfer lived his life fulfilling his calling to raise and train animals not with fear and over-bearance, but with gentleness, love, and respect. Zamba the lion was the product of Helfer's "affection training" and a more lovable lion never lived. If you lo ...more
Helfer is the animal behaviourist who pioneered what is now known as affection training for captive wild animals. Because he bonds with his animals he never beat them into submission like other trainers of years past, and therefore was able to develop a loving, trusting relationship with Zamba, the male African lion he raised from a cub. Zamba really does sound like an amazing animal, and the story makes for a cute, if sometimes heartbreaking, read. Recommended for anyone who loves animals.
Natasha Kaufman
Most beautiful and loving story one can write about a lion. You feel so connected to both Ralph and Zamba. If you are an animal lover you have to most definitely read this book. Amazingly written, you feel every emotion that everyone in the book feels as well with Zamba's emotions. You become so drawn into the lives of this animal and the people involved that it will forever change your view on pretty much everything. LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. This book.
The true story of Ralph Helfer who worked as a stuntman for a Hollywood studio and quickly learned the importance of positive reinforcement in animal training after almost losing his life.

When Ralph invited a young lion cub into his house and his life, he was determined to use training based on love, trust and respect and not fear.

This is the story of his special bond and connection with Zamba, a lion who was used in several TV commercials.
Ralph Helfer has beautifully written this story of his lion Zamba. Both his writing style and subject matter make for a highly enjoyable read. Zamba's story is a testament to having an animal do something for you out of love and a desire to please rather than out of fear. It makes you feel as though we could all live harmoniously if we only tried. I highly recommend reading this especially if you have a love of and connection to animals.
ZAMBA: The True Story of the Greatest Lion That Ever Lived by Ralph Heller
GENRE/PUB DATE/# OF PGS: Memoir; 2005, 258 pgs
COMMENTS: Ralph Heller lives in Hollywood area & believes in training animals through affection (& discipline) rather than fear. At 2 months old Zamba is orphaned & brought back from Africa. For the next 18 yr Zamba & Ralph live & work together.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 64 65 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Soul of a Lion: One Woman's Quest to Rescue Africa's Wildlife Refugees
  • The Daily Coyote: Story of Love, Survival, and Trust In the Wilds of Wyoming
  • Out of Harm's Way
  • Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World's Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers
  • The Wilderness Family: At Home with Africa's Wildlife
  • From Baghdad to America: Life Lessons from a Dog Named Lava
  • Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America's Search and Rescue Dogs
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
  • The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship
  • Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
  • Katie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a Family
  • Lost and Found: Dogs, Cats, and Everyday Heroes at a Country Animal Shelter
  • That Quail, Robert
  • Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family
  • Don't Look Behind You!: A Safari Guide's Encounters with Ravenous Lions, Stampeding Elephants, and Lovesick Rhinos
  • The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness
  • Where the Blind Horse Sings: The Uplifting Story of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary and the Animals Who Call It Home
  • Shadow Mountain: A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild
Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived The Beauty of the Beasts: Tales of Hollywood's Wild Animal Stars The World's Greatest Lion Mosey The Beauty of the Beasts

Share This Book