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

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  3,067 ratings  ·  340 reviews
When the 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 Anthony entered Baghdad he discovered that full-scale combat and uncontrolled looting had killed nearly all the animals of the zoo.

But not all of them. U.S. soldiers had taken the time to he
...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Jamie I found a copy at my local library!

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Diane S ☔
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
A few months back I read Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo, which also covered this zoo. Although I that one it was told by an Iraqi man who had a vested interest in one of the Lions. Lawrence Anthony was mentioned in that book, but just a short take, as the focus of that book was different.

This book covers Anthonys travel to the area and how that came about, as well as some history of the region. The main focus though is the animals and the condition I which he f
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Diane in Australia
This is a fantastic book. If you read the Goodreads synopsis, you'll get the gist of the book ... but you won't really understand what these people, and animals, endured until you read the book. The courage, persistence, blood-sweat-and-tears that went into this rescue is simply amazing. So many people risked so much just to make a difference in the lives of innocent animals caught in a war zone. I was deeply touched by Lawrence's efforts, and not only his, but the locals, and the American soldi ...more
Allison
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Kathleen
As with the author's previous book, The Elephant Whisperer, this book was superbly narrated by Simon Vance. I loved Whisperer, and also enjoyed this book (but not as much).

Set in Baghdad in 2003, Lawrence Anthony recounts the restoration of the bombed and looted Baghdad Zoo. Through his first-hand perspective, we see that this hard-won success was a team effort, a cooperative. Helpers included local Iraqis, a few Kuwaiti vets, foreign conservationists (especially Lawrence), the military coalitio
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Woman Reading
4.5 stars - Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! A daring rescue operation in the midst of a combat zone and near anarchy.

Animal welfare isn’t a top priority in the best of times, even in the US. So when Coalition Forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, the animals of the Baghdad Zoo became another casualty of Saddam Hussein’s rule. Some of the caged animals did, however, become priority number one in a different respect. They were readily accessible food for starving Iraqis, the vast majority of whom
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Jennifer
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Ilsa Bick
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jessie Seymour
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I read The Elephant Whisperer a few months back and fell in love. I've now read Babylon's Ark, and that love has only grown. I am dying to read The Last Rhinos now. Lawrence Anthony is not a "writer" by any means. There's a ruggedness to his works that confirms that his first focus is conservation and maintaining his nature reserve, Thula Thula. But Lawrence Anthony is a storyteller. And an incredibly gifted one at that. Having read two of his books now, I am in awe at how well he takes readers ...more
Chrisl
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very informative, clearly written depiction of a horrible situation made better by Lawrence Anthony and his fellow animal lovers. Highly recommend. Appreciated learning a lot about Iraq.
Kate
Apr 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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Donna
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book practically made me weep with such sadness. I've read one other book by Lawrence Anthony, who is a conservationist. He runs a game reserve in South Africa to protect many animals. In this book, he decided to travel to Baghdad, war torn and still unsafe, to save the animals that have been abandoned in the zoo. The animals were starving and horrific shape. That was so sad.

The author rose to the challenge and tried to save them. This was such an inspirational story. Kind hearts speak volu
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Ashes
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lawrence Anthony entered a war zone to save animals from the destroyed Baghdad Zoo - and succeeded. But not without problems. In the early days - or rather weeks - of the rescue, the looters in particular, the Ali Baba as they were called, made me want to go back in time, fly right there, punch them in the face and kick them in the balls. It's crazy what they had to go through to care for these animals, to keep them alive. And they were in constant danger amidst all that. I don't think many woul ...more
LibraryCin
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, animals, war, iraq, zoos
4.25 stars

In 2003, during the war in Iraq, a few hundred animals were abandoned in their cages, unable to fend for themselves, in the Baghdad Zoo. When Lawrence Anthony, conservationist and owner of the Thula Thula animal sanctuary in South Africa saw this on tv, he knew he had to help. He worked as fast as he could to organize everything to be allowed in to Baghdad at this time. He was one of the only foreign civilians allowed in at this time, while war still went on around the city. The zoo ha
...more
Brittany
Mar 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I did not enjoy this as much as Elephant Whisperer, but I can still recommend it. There are a few pages that seemed to be a "cut and paste" from Elephant Whisperer, but that is my only complaint. The story is compelling and the writing is clear. If you have enjoyed Lawrence Anthony's work in the past, this will not disappoint.
Lori
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a well placed plea to treat our planet and animals with respect and kindness . Intensely hard work went into saving the starving remnants of the Baghdad zoo's animals. There is rescue of miserable creatures trapped in private menagerie and palaces . The incredible undertaking to lead a war torn country to modern animal husbandry gives hope for people to see one another with charity.
Maria
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J. Muro
Mar 25, 2016 rated it liked it
3 1/2 ⭐️! Difficult decision, for both of L. Anthony's books on elephants and rhinos had received a five⭐️! This one was because it had been very difficult to read with all of those inhumane stories of neglected animals during the wartime, which was terrible-had to put the book down a lot...Many stars to all those who made such a positively heart-warming and hard-working sacrifice to those left behind animals--the animals and those animal caretakers that spent their time, money, investment, and ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Bless the late Lawrence Anthony! And bless all of those who went into this horrific and deadly situation to save animals stuck in a zoo in the middle of the war zone.

The majority of the stories were very hard for me to read, but I know of these things and just got through them.

The strength all of these men went through to help these animals is very touching. It just goes to show there are people out there that will go through hell to help animals. And in some cases, it really is hell to save t
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Claudia
Having read the version of rescuing the Baghdad zoo for our younger readers, some of the names were familiar but this went into much more detail. And too much of it was sad. As traumatized as the animals were just living in captivity - and not under the best conditions due to the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein - but the warlike conditions during the invasion of Iraq that would utterly confuse and stress them. The looting and violence were unspeakable. Many either starved to death or died fr ...more
Andrew Pender-Smith
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lawrence Anthony's journey into war-torn Iraq to save zoo animals in danger of dying through neglect and starvation is an inspirational story of compassion and courage. The full-colour photographs are a welcome addition. I read this book about a year after it came out and it still resonates.
Jami
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book! The book itself in terms of the content and writing was a 4-star, but I bumped it up another star because of what Lawrence Anthony and his team accomplished at the zoo. I was wondering how a conservationist could rationalize helping rebuild a zoo where animals are caged, but I get it now after reading the book.

Mr. Anthony was one awesome person. I read his first book about how he created his reserve for elephants and wildlife after taking it away from the poachers. Knowing that he
...more
Stephanie A.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, nonfiction, zoos
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
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Kirsti
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding story of courage in the face of horror, and the integral roles everyone involved played in saving the remaining animals of Baghdad Zoo. Lawrence Anthony arrived in Iraq as the first foreign civilian allowed in with one mission; to get to the zoo, deliver his supplies, and do what he could to help the animals. Hundreds of the zoo's former inhabitants had been taken and eaten, or killed in the crossfire. The remaining animals were starving and dehydrated, with the first thought that ...more
Georgia
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely LOVED this book...just as much as I loved his first..."The Elephant Whisperer" and his last..."the Last Rhino". I actually googled Laurence Anthony after reading "The Elephant Whisperer" and was crushed to read that he had died shortly after writing "The Last Rhino". All three of these books are so informative, heart-warming, and yet horrifying with the descriptions of the evils of poaching these animals to extinction. I seldom plead with people to read books--but in this case, I'm ...more
Christy Keeler
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful testament of commitment to humanity. Anthony, without being requested and while using personal funds, chose to go to Baghdad in the midst of a war to do what was right—save defenseless animals abandoned in a neglected zoo. He stayed to bring the zoo to health and rescue numerous other abandoned and abused animals.

The book shows how one person committed to doing what is right can change a world for many. He never involved himself with the the politics of the war; he just loved t
...more
Susan
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Amazing true story of some incredible people who helped rescue the animals of the Baghdad Zoo during the Iraq war. Uplifting, at times sad, but restores some of your faith in humanity. A book you look forward to picking up and reading.
Davehbo
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
OK I'm now through all the Anthony books. Elephant Whisperer was the best one for me. Most focused, more interesting stories. This book has a great first half. The story of getting into Baghdad and finding out how to treat the animals was very interesting. After that, a little repetitive for me.
Andrea Bearman
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read many heart-wrenching, true tales about animals lately. But have also experienced epic stories of resilience. This book is not any different: Babylon’s Ark, by Lawrence Anthony (with Graham Spence).
Babylon’s Ark is the true story of Lawrence Anthony deciding “enough is enough”; he goes into warring Baghdad, Iraq to rescue whatever remains of the Baghdad Zoo. He has a haunting image in his mind of animals from a previous war effort being reduced from strong, magnificent creatures to lone
...more
Kylie Stoneburner
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-read
This is a book that emphasizes the courage and ingenuity that people are capable of when they are compelled to save and protect animals in need. From Lawrence Anthony, the South African game reserve owner that took it upon himself to find a way into a war zone to aid in assisting the animals in a zoo that he wasn't even sure survived the bombings, at great personal risk and financial loss; to the Iraqi zoo staff that walked miles to the zoo and back, everyday, through the red zone where fire fig ...more
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