Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream
A moving true story of American struggle.
Royal, Nebraska, population eighty-one—where the church, high school, and post office each stand abandoned, monuments to a Great Plains town that never flourished. But for nearly twenty years, they had a zoo, seven acres that rose from local peculiarity to key tourist attraction to devastating tragedy. And it all began with one ma...more
Whew. I was going to write a big thing and then I wasn’t going to say anything. Now I’m going to try to piece together some thoughts.
First off; years ago I volunteered in a wildlife refuge. I met a wonderful friend there and we tried our best to do everything we could for the animals every day. The owner was off her rocker and we stayed as long as we could to help those wonderful animals. In the end, we had to leave and mos ...more
This is a story of rural America, one that laments the passage of time that causes small towns to become even smaller as they struggle not to wink out of existence. It is also the story one man’s dream, a man ready to sacrifice everything to make it happen.
Author Carson Vaughan has created a work of literary journalism, spending years researching the people and history of the town of Royal, Nebraska. The ...more
Everyone loves the idea of living in a small town, but few people understand the realities of livi ...more
I am sure none of us animal lovers haven't dreamed of having a zoo of our own. Thankfully, it stays just that, a dream, nothing more than a fantasy. But for one man, he grew his dream into owning first one chimp and it just grew from there. Though he was very unprepared for the upkeep, budget and time having ...more
Dick Haskins heart was probably in the right place, but his lack of knowledge about anything other than the animals was staggering. How the zoo ...more
Dick Haskins dreamt of working with primates. That drive manifested itself into a small, scrappy zoo in his hometown of Royal, Nebraska.
Dick's desire burned so brightly, though, he drove himself to care for the animals and the zoo beyond the limits of human endurance. Without pay, without rest, and often without assistance, he persevered ...more
The townspeople and governing body of Royal, Nebraska (pop.81) never planned to open a zoo, but when local boy, Dick Haskin, decided to bring his childhood dream--working with primates--to the community, they supported him. From the mid-1980s to 2005, thousands visited Zoo Nebraska and the community came to view Haskin's first chimp, Reuben, as a valued member.
But, as journalist Vaughan eloquently shows, it tak ...more
Royal Nebraska was the start of this vision. A vision that incorporated his love of primates after the death of a beloved friend in Rwanda.
As the tourist trade multiplied so too was his gamble that the town of Royal Nebraska (population 81) could also rise and accommodate these gorgeous chimpanzees.
Small town politics meets community perseverance which has horrific cons ...more
So this book was offered as my free book of the month. I like to step out of my traditional genres of reading and try something different. This was definitely a different read. Based on a true story in Nebraska, I’m not sure how I feel about this read. On one hand it was a strange, unbelievable story about one person starting a zoo. Then all the drama that followed. It was intriguing but I can’t say interesting. At times it felt like I was reading about the local gossip of a ...more
I’d give this 3.5 stars. It is deeply researched and the writing is quite readable. For me the main drawback is that there’s just too much of it. When you have a huge stack of information in front of you, all that hard work and time represented by it, it can be hard to know what to include. I read this in ebook format. If I’d held the hard copy book in my hand I might’ve realized what was happening sooner. As it was, I started wondering if I was getting close to the end and saw I was onl ...more
Though the author’s heated prose has a tendency to get in its own way, “Zoo Nebraska” is a taut tale about a small town, the inevitable dysfunction that arises when one man’s dream meets civic reality, and the ugly consequences caused by our need to connect with the natural world in ways that are ultimately destructive to the animals we profess to love. Meticulously researched and written with a full heart and gimlet eye, “Zoo Nebraska” is a fascinating look at the ...more
Full disclosure: I contemplated not finishing this book, and a low rating early on. It's a difficult read - not due to the writing, which is concise and clear - but the subject matter. The proverbial train races off the tracks in the first few pages, then the author back tracks to the beginning.
I'm glad I continued reading; this book will stay with me for a long time.
Two strong themes weave their way through the narrative. One, most ...more
'If they come around the windows, show 'em that gun," she said. 'I don't know what else will stop them. They can go through glass in a heartbeat.'
Just moments later, she found Jimmy Joe standing outside the front door more electric now then he seemed before, as if at any second he might swing t ...more