Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “We Bought a Zoo” as Want to Read:
We Bought a Zoo
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

We Bought a Zoo

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  4,702 ratings  ·  768 reviews
In the tradition of "Marley & Me" comes an unforgettable memoir about the mysteries of the animal kingdom, the power of family, and the triumph of hope over tragedy in this chronicle of the Mee family's purchase of the Dartmoor Wildlife Park, a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside.
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Weinstein Books (first published 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about We Bought a Zoo, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about We Bought a Zoo

We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin MeeBabylon's Ark by Lawrence AnthonyZoo Story by Thomas FrenchThe Rhino with Glue-On Shoes by Lucy H. SpelmanAn Introduction to Zoo Biology and Management by Paul A. Rees
Books about Zoos
1st out of 31 books — 19 voters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingWater for Elephants by Sara GruenThe Help by Kathryn StockettBeastly by Alex FlinnJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
2011 Books To Movies List
23rd out of 51 books — 51 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
K.D. Absolutely
My work in the office is to be in front of the computer for almost the whole day. I’m an information technology-systems analyst guy assigned on North American projects so I rarely talk to anybody except during lunch time. Due to this, I can don a headset and listen to a radio station. 8 hours a day.

Since early this January, my favorite afternoon station, RJ 100.30 has been airing the teaser for the movie adaptation of this memoir We Bought a Zoo with one line that goes something like: ”You don’
This is the story of one man's dream, and how he achieved it. But it is no fairy story, although there is a happy ending of sorts.

Benjamin Mee is a journalist, with a talent for making what must have been a traumatic and nerve-racking experience sound both entertaining and poignant. This is his true account of how he bought a failing ramshackle zoo, with the aim of rescuing and re-opening it to the public. There are about two hundred animals now in his care, in the revamped Dartmoor Zoological P
Part of what I'm writing is a review of the book, and part of it is a review of the reviews of the book. First of all, a disclaimer: I am primarily, by personal choice, a fiction reader, but I do know that one must bring different reading skills and expectations to a non-fiction account than to a novel. This book is exactly what it says, the story of a young British family living in France (think of some of those House Hunters International episodes from HGTV). The father is a writer of DIY arti ...more
Jan 26, 2012 Yzobelle rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers
After loving the movie so much, it is difficult for me to give this book 3 stars. I thought and hoped I would be able to proudly give it 5 shining stars.

The book is not entirely bad. Benjamin Mee wrote as a journalist would -- the style was flowing, easy-to-read, a bit witty, and has a pretty good play of words. It was perhaps the focus of the book and the diversion from the movie (or rather, vice-versa -- the movie diverted from the book) that made it a little disappointing. I was expecting to
It's written rather breathlessly and the photo gallery is completely unsatisfying (more shots of the house and zoo rather than their animal inhabitants would have been nice, not to mention more photos of the family) but the tale itself is pretty darn touching.

Recently saw this family friendly movie and enjoyed it. If you have read Benjamin Mee's book WE BOUGHT A ZOO you may be disappointed at the "hollywood spin". Any similarity between the book and the movie basically ends with the title.

In the book Mee's father died and HIS MOTHER bought the Dartmoor Zoo (located in the UK not California) using funds received from the sale of her home in Surrey. Mee's wife Katherine was alive at the time of the purchase and moved to the zoo with their two children
Melissa (ladybug)
While I basically liked this book, I did have several problems with it. The author would (frequently) say something like "but more on that later" but then Mr. Mee never returned to the subject. This happened frequently towards the end of the book. I hated this aspect of the book. Another issue, I had problems with Mr. Mee going on about money complaints and dealings with back room boys and others. He was beating a dead horse with some of his story. It was like he was trying to think of what to w ...more
Apparently in England you can buy a zoo if you have a million pounds or so...

The best parts were the references to Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, and the part where when they are testing the zoo restaurant before the zoo opens they drink most of the keg of Stella Artois before the zoo opens...

I felt slightly used when it became apparent that one of the author's motivations for buying the zoo was so that he could write a book about it.

Overall the writing is average, but it was a q
My four-sentence or less take on the plot: Benjamin Mee and his family decide an extremely run down zoo (so run down that the animals are going to be quickly euthanized if a buyer isn't found). The zoo provides an extreme amount of both enjoyment and difficulty. During this time, Mee runs in to personal tragedy when his beloved wife gets diagnosed with brain cancer. This book deals with a lot of the nitty gritty business details of the buying and opening of a zoo.

Rating: 8

What worked:I really li
An interesting story spoiled by a literal take, inadequate writing quality and a superficial treatment.

Ok for a memoir maybe there is no requirement for flights of lyrical prose but I expect better from a professional writer.

The superficiality bothered me - we get no real idea of the numbers involved and I'd like to have seen it treated as more of a business case study.

The park itself, the background history and personality of the animals are never detailed except as involved in a couple of anec
Once the family bought the zoo, I enjoyed this book a great deal. However, it was very slow starting. The opening chapter deals with life in France, as the author's wife is diagnosed with a brain tumor. I'm sure it was very important to the author to include this, but it would have served the book better if it had been covered later in the book as a look back. It dragged the book down and made me reluctant to continue.

I run a movie club and we are going to see the movie. I like to read the book
I did enjoy this book. To be specific, I enjoyed the storyline--a family in England buys a small rundown zoo and works to get it licensed and started up again in the midst of a family tragedy. Now that being said, this book was in serious need of a good editor with lots of red ink. At times it did not flow logically and suffered from a severe overuse of parentheses. Rarely was there a simple sentence containing one uninterrupted thought. And it was downright aggravating that the author would com ...more
Lisa Kay

(This is a review of the audiobook.) This was narrated by Gildart Jackson, who does a decent job of reading this memoir. However, he pretty much sounds like he is talking from a lectern, if somewhat informally. In his defense, this is in large part due to the way the author wrote the story.

I can see why this book would make a good movie. Nevertheless, the book spends a lot of time on Mr. Mee’s troubles with wills, bank loans, finances, and his wife's illness and death, when - sorry to say - I w
I'm so excited! I am receiving 'We Bought a Zoo' by Benjamin Mee, as a gift through Goodreads Giveaways and Mandy. Today my husband and I just purchased the movie and I'm more than thrilled and cannot wait to receive, read and review the book. Thank you so much. I feel like a lottery winner!!

I liked this book! There were laugh out loud moments and well-deserved triumphs.

I read a previous review where it was stated that the reader felt that Mee was not very likable in the book. I thought ( and I
M.T. McGuire
Having picked this book up, on a whim, at a car boot sale, I read it in a morning. The style is easy to read and voice is particularly clear, I really got the impression that I was sitting having a chat with Benjamin Mee. The voice is very strong. He's a journalist and it's an easy read journalistic style which I enjoyed. Because it's written by him, it has an immediacy that some of the more obviously ghost written celebrity biographies lack.

The book is funny enough to have me laughing out loud
Alright, so normally I don't pick up a book and read it all the way trough in one (or one and a little) sitting unless it's captivating and usually fiction. Yet, this non fiction book on one man's experience in buying a zoo I read from 1 am to 6 am and then the last 15% after I woke up at noon. Finished the whole thing before 1 pm.

And I don't know why.

Certainly I've been reading some crazy shit lately: John Dies at the End (fucked up fiction which is screwing with my sense of insanity), The Er
Keilani Ludlow
What a wonderful book! So many laugh out loud moments even in the midst of sadness and trial. I saw and enjoyed the movie, but the book really expands the story. However, without the movie I would never have known of the book so can't deride the movie for changing so much.

He is an excellent writer, witty and observant. As a fan of Gerard Durrell (another writer with a zoo), I also really enjoyed his discussions of the different animals, habits that they have, bits and pieces of scientific inform
Sim Carter
About the Book:
Knowing it was the basis for what looked like a romantic comedy starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, I really wanted to LOVE this book. It was not at all what I expected and I tried to enjoy it for its own merits. If you've seen the movie, believe me, this is nothing like the film. BUT if you are an animal lover and find topics like extracting a tooth from a bear or how to get a decrepit animal park in shape for the inspectors, then this book may be for you. It was occasion
My own love of animals may have made this book more interesting to me than to the average person. The idea of owning a zoo seems like heaven, so I was happy to follow along as the author and his family traveled the very difficult and expensive road to zoo ownership. The book is not just about the zoo, however... it's also about the author's wife, who develops (and dies from) brain cancer (that's not a spoiler, as her death is revealed on the book jacket). Her death was particularly sad because s ...more
This is a well written account of Mee and his family's experience of buying a run down zoo in England, and bringing it up to speed with modern zoo keeping practices. The narrative is partly a family story, as the zoo is bought as a family endeavor by Mee, his sibs, and his widowed mother with money from his deceased father's estate. During the period of the story, Mee's beloved wife Catherine also dies of a brain tumor, leaving him and his two young children to cope. Mee had a previous career as ...more
More than I really wanted to know about running a Zoo. Feeding, culling, moving, medicating... The real nitty gritty. (Aside) The author, at one time, hides a big chunk of meat high in a tree branch in the lion's enclosure and it takes the lioness three days to figure out how to get it. (keeping her entertained)

I'm a little ambivalent about Zoos, but they seem to have improved the habitat for the animals greatly since I was a child. I do remember two Zoos particularly from when our daughters wer
We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Changed Their Lives Forever by Benjamin Mee is a look at a family that decides to buy a zoo and raise their family on that property, but also ends up dealing with the tragedy of the brain tumor and death of Mrs. Katherine Mee.

The story is interesting, poignant and bittersweet. It focuses on the rundown zoo, an ecletic staff and a wide variety of animals, some of which were in detereoratin
I struggle to rate this book. The storyline should have made it amazing, but the writing to me just didn't seem all there. Like some other reviewers, I was expecting a little different from a journalist being the writer of the book. I felt like so much was going on, but instead of getting really invested I felt a little like I was being forced to sit down and watch him go thorough hundreds of slides of pictures from those years, each accompanied by a factual and detailed description of the exper ...more
Jen Russell
I liked this book and the author reminded me a lot of Chris. It was exciting, interesting, and emotionally touching. Some sections had quite a bit of foul language when he is quoting other. I would have rather he "bleeped" them out. Can't wait to see the movie now. There was a BBC2 tv series produced while they were trying to buy the zoo- opening day. It would also be fun to see that now that I feel as if I know the characters.

In the memoir, the author's father dies. His mom is contemplating se
Expanding Bookshelf
In “We Bought a Zoo”, Benjamin Mee tells the story of how his family came to buy the Dartmoor Zoological Park and the great lengths it took to revitalize the zoo and prepare it for opening day. After his father dies, his 76 year old mother needs to sell their old house and eventually the family decides to purchase a zoo with the money. Mee, who writes DIY magazine articles, along with his mother, wife and two children move in and immediately start working on renovating this zoo in hopes of it so ...more
I got this as a Advanced Readers Copy and was very pleased with it. Benjamin Mee and Weinstein Books has a sure fire hit on their hands with this book!

Some parts of the book were emotionally tough to get through, however by the time you get to that part you already feel that you are part of the family. You also begin to feel as you are part of the team at the zoo.

Benjamin (not to be confused with his father Ben) goes looking for a better place to live with his family and ends up buying a delapit
I had a really hard time rating this book. Mostly, because I love animals and was afraid I'd be a bit biased. Here is why I only gave it four stars. First, Benjamin Mee is a DIY author for a magazine and that is how he basically writes the book-like a DIY article. He occasionally gets off track and wanders a page or two on a subject that, to be honest, bored me to death. Not to mention, that I sometimes felt he mentioned certain people as if he was trying to include as many "thank you, this woul ...more
Diane Librarian
This is a fun and interesting read, though it has a sad story at the heart of it. Benjamin Mee and his family decide to buy a rundown zoo in England, but in the middle of the adventure, his wife dies after a lengthy battle with a brain tumor. (In the overly precious movie version of this book, the wife's death is what causes Benjamin to buy the zoo, in addition to other Hollywood script doctoring.)

I like stories about fixer-uppers and when a group pulls together to accomplish a goal, which is wh
Benjamin Mee’s mother was looking to downsize after her husband passed away, but when a unique opportunity to own and manage the Dartmoor Wildlife Park in England was brought to her attention, she and her adult children (and grandchildren) decided to bid on it. Several attempts to secure the zoo ended in failure, but the family was finally able to purchase it in 2006, refurbish it, and open (to great success!) in July of 2007. During that time, Ben lost his beloved wife Katherine to cancer, and ...more
This book will strike a chord with many, I suspect, who have the personal fantasy of working at a zoo. However this is part memoir as well, as the writer lost his wife to a brain tumor shortly after his family purchased trhe zoo.

While the story is engaging, many will find Mr. Mee rambles a bit, and while the reader might prefer more details about the zookeeping, he interjects a great deal about adminstrative and staff details and how difficult it was to get a loan. He misses a few opportunities
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Reading For P...: April Nonfiction Group Read - We Bought a Zoo 10 12 Apr 12, 2015 03:53PM  
Book Broads: 14 1 2 Jan 06, 2015 08:17PM  
  • Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World's Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers
  • The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes: And Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and their Patients
  • Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
  • Fowl Weather
  • The Beauty of the Beasts: Tales of Hollywood's Wild Animal Stars
  • Tales of an African Vet
  • Love Is the Best Medicine: What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian about Hope, Humility, and Everyday Miracles
  • Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives
  • Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, from Myth to Reality
  • Soul of a Lion: One Woman's Quest to Rescue Africa's Wildlife Refugees
  • Soul of a Dog: Reflections on the Spirits of the Animals of Bedlam Farm
  • Endal: How One Extraordinary Dog Brought a Family Back from the Brink
  • One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Helmand - An Inspiring True Story
  • Born Wild: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Passion for Africa
  • Shadow Mountain: A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild
  • A Lion Called Christian: The True Story of the Remarkable Bond Between Two Friends and a Lion
  • The Dog Who Rescues Cats: True Story of Ginny
  • Katie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a Family
Benjamin Mee, a former bricklayer and decorator, returned to education in his early twenties in order to investigate animal intelligence. Ben studied psychology at UCL and wrote his dissertation on dolphin intelligence, after which his first article appeared in the Independent, while he was a student on the MSc in Science Journalism at Imperial College.

As the world preferred articles on health and
More about Benjamin Mee...
The Call Of DIY Düşler Bahçesi

Share This Book

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” 310 likes
“All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage and great things will happen.” 14 likes
More quotes…