Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
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Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  845 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Whenthe Iraq war began,conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, located in the city center and caught in the war's crossfire.Once Anthonyentered Baghdad hediscoveredthat full-scale combatand uncontrolled looting had killed nearly all the animals of the zoo.
But not all of them. U.S. soldiershad takenthe time to helpcare fo...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Jennifer
A fan of Anthony since reading "The Elephant Whisperer," I was quick to pick this up to see what adventures he could get himself into this time. "Babylon's Ark" takes Anthony out of the lush, natural setting of South Africa and puts him instead in the urban, war-torn, city of Baghdad with IEDs and flying bullets. The few remaining animals at the Baghdad Zoo not killed or stolen by local looters were in grave condition and upon arrival Anthony considers whether it wouldn't be most humane just to...more
Allison W.
Jul 03, 2012 Allison W. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA & Up
Wow. Just, wow. What a loss the world has experienced since Lawrence Anthony has died - and most of the world has no clue.

It never occurred to me that there was a zoo in Baghdad and despite knowing that the Hussein's kept exotic animals, I never once gave any thought to them until I heard of this book.

The insight that Mr. Anthony had into how to address issues, whether crisis issues or not, far exceeded their application on just a war-torn zoo.

In addition to relating the tales of saving the anim...more
Ilsa Bick
Conservationist and Earth Organization founder Lawrence Anthony died in March at the age of 61. An insurance and real estate exec turned animal saviour, Anthony came to world attention in 2003 when, alarmed about what might be happening to the capital city’s zoo animals, he rushed to Iraq shortly after the American invasion. When he arrived, only a few weeks into the war, he discovered the zoo savaged by combat fire and ransacked by looters. The majority of the animals were gone, either killed b...more
Kate
While definitely not the pinnacle of good writing, the story is what counts here. I read about Lawrence Anthony and this book in a Sunday paper magazine in a pub and I knew I had to read it. I had no idea that there even was a Baghdad zoo (or a Kabul zoo for that matter), I suppose because I just didn't think about it. But that now makes me feel almost guilty after reading about what happened to these places and the animals in them that count on humans every day for their health and well-being.

I...more
Maria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brittany
This book tells the fascinating story of a conservationist from South Africa who decided to save the Baghdad Zoo in the middle of the Second Gulf War. He sweet-talked his way into Kuwait, bludgeoned and bonhomie-d his way from there in Iraq with a rented Toyota and two Kuwaiti zoo workers.

The story is stunning. Unfortunately, though Lawrence Anthony has many gifts, writing is not one of them. (Hence the presence of the co-author). The book's quality of writing, pacing and language are extremely...more
Linda
When a friend recommended this book, it sounded like a book that I'd enjoy. Indeed I did enjoy it, and learned more about what life was like in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. The South African author went to Baghdad to save animals that were left in the destroyed Baghdad Zoo. What he found was hard to believe. His heroic effort to bring life back to the small percentage of animals that survived the war was amazing. I found myself horrified and fascinated at the same time. This was a good read,...more
Sue
After the topple of Saddam's regime, Lawrence Anthony learned of the cruel living conditions suffered by the animals of the Baghdad Zoo. Anthony was able, by persistence, to get himself permission to enter Iraq on what was originally to be a fact finding mission to evaluate the conditions and determine what could be done. The conditions he found were far worse than he'd expected and the mission turned into an effort to save the lives of as many as possible. Initially operating on less than a sh...more
Johanna
Apr 10, 2008 Johanna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone - but especially animal enthusiasts
I learned a lot about what it was/is like in Iraq from an outsider's perspective at the heart of Baghdad just after the invasion - the hardships, violence, lack of sanitation, futility, and destruction. This one man's battle to save the remaining animals that were not stolen or killed in the zoo is an amazing documentation of courage, compassion, and determination. Lawrence Anthony has a big heart and an impressive amount of "liver," so to speak. ;)

I was struck by many things in this book - firs...more
Stephanie A.
I know/understand basically nothing about the giant quagmire that is the Middle East, but THIS is how you make war real and horrible to me: remind me how it punishes innocent animals, especially the caged ones who can't run. Fortunately, it is a mostly inspiring story, filled with good guys at every turn. It's written in an engaging style with no politicizing, the animals always at the forefront, and it's wonderful to see people who do care.

The worst part is reading about how brazen and damagin...more
Mac
Babylon's Ark is interesting and informative on several subjects--the Iraqi cruel treatment of animals even before the war began, the horrible conditions of the Baghdad zoo just after the US invasion, the challenges--both physical and financial--to save the remaining zoo animals, and the total lawlessness throughout the city. That lawlessness--the looting, the intimidation, the constant threat from gunfire and bombs--is as vividly drawn as the animals' poor health and squalid conditions in the z...more
Carolyn Stevens Shank
This book is an account of Anthony's heroic efforts to save the animals in the Baghdad Zoo from certain death, immediately after the U.S.-Iran War. He found the animals emaciated, dying of thirst, traumatized, and in unbelievably filthy cages. Anthony was the first civilian to cross the border, while street battles were still raging. There were those who thought him mad to take on such a task. He said he wanted to compensate for, and call attention to, the world-wide abuse and neglect of wild a...more
Ashley
This was a very inspring, eye-opening book!! Every human should read this book, it will defenitley change your veiws on today's society. It has a very deep meaning, especially the last chapter. The book was a brilliant book, which I could read over and over again. It was a beautiful tale!!
Shona Thomson
This is the second book of this author's that I have read, I enjoyed 'The Elephant Whisperer' so much that I had to read this one.
The story is an amazing testimony to the local people who worked at the Baghdad Zoo, and people like Lawrence Anthony who came in to help.
They had the vital support of the US Military, as it was really dangerous to travel around Baghdad to collect animals.
The story was a good read, it covered the difficulties well, and it was heartwarming to see how much the world ca...more
Jennifer Hoyer
What a great read! Truth is certainly stranger than fiction in this incredible account of how one man with unflappable determination entered a war zone and risked his life to save what was left of the Baghdad Zoo.

Although L.A. never mentions faith, he definitely lived by it. Absolutely no doubt that God blessed this wild mission. So inspiring.

This book also gives a candid glimpse into the lives of the US troops and what they had to deal with on a daily basis after ending the horrors of the Husse...more
Lynn
I really liked this book! A conservationist, Lawrence Anthony, goes to Bagdhad after the war is supposed to be over to help the animals at the zoo (or more correctly whatever is still breathing). He arrives to find that the war is not entirely over and the zoo is in severe disarray. He networks with journalists, American soldiers and politicians to save the animals using his own money. Eventually more conservation societies get involved and aid in the struggle to bring the animals and zoo back t...more
Sarah
Finally! A nonfiction book that I absolutely love and adore! I can't believe I found one! Hooray! or should I say hooah![return][return]Lawrence Anthony is the founder of a wild animal preserve in South Africa who felt a calling after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He had heard rumors of the best zoo in Arabia being decimated and that the animals were in desperate need of care. So he went. He knew the right people in the right places--ambassadors, bureaucrats, and military men who could get him i...more
Jennifer
This is one of those memoirs that brings such depth to the description of, on the surface, a small project. When the United States invaded Iraq and took control of Baghdad, what happened to both the public zoo, and the private menagerie owned by the Hussein family? Somebody took the animals and found homes for them in other zoos, right? Actually, the truth is far more complicated. Zoo animals are much more fragile than housepets. They are used to a particular diet, a schedule, and handlers they...more
Kalie Lyn
When tragedy strikes, whether it is war or a natural disaster, the lives of people are everyone’s first priority. However, humans are not the only ones affected during tough times, and it seems that animals, who suffer as much if not more, are often forgotten about or left behind. In Lawrence Anthony’s Babylon’s Ark, the true-life rescue of the animals in war-torn Baghdad reminds us how truly devastating war can be on every being.

Beginning with the frantic rush to try to save Baghdad’s zoo, Lawr...more
Liz
An inside look at the first 6 months of the Iraq war through the eyes of a South African conservationist who came to save the animals in the Baghdad Zoo. First hand accounts of the consequences of war on the humans and the environment are difficult to read especially if the account does not sanitize the conditions. (as this does not) In some of the most despicable and dangerous situations, the Iraqi people and the coalition forces were both extremely courageous or ultimately evil. It made me won...more
Laura
I was amazed both by the devotion of a random South African conservationist and the Iraqi zoo workers, and the surprising connections the American soldiers and other military crews made with the desperate animals. I wouldn't have expected such an "anything for the animals" attitude in the midst of a warzone. The zoo never would have survived without the numerous random acts of generosity. There is also the flip side, with the general population of Baghdad pushed to such a point of chaos and desp...more
Mamiefarley
In 2003, Anthony came to the rescue of another group of animals in dire need. When Iraq was invaded by coalition forces, the Baghdad Zoo was caught smack in the center of the conflict. Out of 700 original animals at the zoo, only 35 had survived the violence and subsequent looting. Anthony left his home in South Africa and through courage and determination made his way into Baghdad. Babylon's Ark is the unbelievable story of how Anthony and a skeleton Iraqi crew risked their lives to save these...more
Jackie
I thought this was an incredible book because I had no idea that there was even a Baghdad Zoo. I was shocked at the condition that the animals were in and to have someone come all the way from South Africa to do what he could to save the animals that could be saved is absolutely astonishing.

I hate war of any kind. I hate all of the innocents caught in it who never did anything to deserve the awful consequences when one nation can't abide by another and the only way out is to just drop as many bo...more
Lindsay
I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with this book. While the story is fantastic, the writing is pretty terrible and really diminished the quality of the book and distracted from the amazing story that could have been told. The story would have been much better served written by a "real" author. What I found fascinating, however, is the inside view of the front line of the Iraq War from the perspective of a civilian, both for the Iraqi citizens and the troops. The men and women who assi...more
Preeti
I learned recently that Lawrence Anthony died in March. I didn't know anything about him until I read this book, and even then, my knowledge was limited. Of course, it takes his death to learn more about him and find out that he was a respected leader for African wildlife conservation.

I'd seen this book at my library many times and finally decided to check it out due to some zoo research I've been doing. It was a very quick and engaging read. The story is about how Anthony found out about the pl...more
Zahra
This is an amazing story about determination, selflessness and the passion to make a difference in the lives of others, in this case beautifully innocent animals. The story also gives an unmistakeable insight into war as civilians face it and soldiers while not taking on any political arguments. Beautifully written and a great read. Definitely recommend it to anyone who likes animals, biographies, non-fiction, war and much more...
corpho
A heart-rending tale of a war-ravaged nation grasping at its last threads of normality, and the examination of the possibility of animal rights in such a devastated society. Lawrence Anthony's story brings us face-to-face with the reality of a world (our world!) on the brink of ecological destruction, and the brutality of war and inhumanity that we seem to rationalize as a matter of fact. I was affected very deeply by the compassion of the Iraqi zoo staff who were the victims of such a crushing...more
Linda
Anthony, the “elephant whisperer” traveled to Baghdad just after Saddam Hussein’s fall from power to aid the animals at the Baghdad Zoo. The conditions he found there were much worse than he had imagined, and there was a lot of combat still going on in the city as well. However, a few American soldiers had been trying to keep the animals alive and there was a small group of zoo employees still on hand. The first great need was water, and they carried bucket after bucket from a nearby stagnant p...more
Mari Anne
This is how a non-fiction book should be written! This story of Mr. Anthony and his quest to save the animals of the Baghdad Zoo was entertaining, informative and fun to read. What it was NOT was super narcissistic and self-congratulatory like some of these books tend to be. Mr. Anthony wrote more about his experiences and the people he met and worked with than he did himself... refreshing! My only complaint is that he got a bit preachy at the end about man's rape and pillage of Earth's natural...more
Jessica
Another excellent book that I wish everyone could/would read - this story is almost unbelievable!! Not only about the animals that were saved but also about the war in Iraq in general, which I have so far read very little about.

People like Lawrence Anthony give me new hope that not all is lost on our planet. We all need to work together and change our ways in order to keep our planet - and our own species - alive!
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