Laura's Reviews > Behind the Scenes with Wild Animals

Behind the Scenes with Wild Animals by Ellen Velvin
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's review
May 31, 10

bookshelves: animals, circus, nonfiction, zoo
Read in May, 2010 — I own a copy

Oh, this one is great fun! This is worth a read if only for the image of a proper Victorian lady wandering around behind the scenes of zoos and circuses with her little notebook, jotting everything down.

I was inititally disappointed with this book, because when I first receieved it, I thought it was actually a female trainer from the 19th century writing about herself. It turns out instead to be an account written by a woman who studied other trainers. But this ended up not being a negative point at all.

There is a lot that is ho-hum and clearly animal people simply relating dramatic tales to her (the chapter on wolves could have happily been excluded). This is also not a book to read for training techniques. However, there are some unique bits to this book that don't appear in all the trainers' books.

First, there is her third-party perspective on the cirucs life and the personalities and drama behind the scenes, which is a beautiful thing. Second, there is a whole unique chapter on the photographing of wild animals, where she goes into all the problems that occur to get those perfect posed circus photographs that are everywhere in other books. I'm going to have to look at such photos more closely from here on out. And through all of it, her writing is so matter-of-fact as to be hilarious. A great, fun read.

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