Laura's Reviews > We Bought a Zoo

We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee
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's review
Nov 07, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: animals, nonfiction, zoo
Read in December, 2011 — I own a copy

This was not at all what I expected. The animals are part of the landscape and the centerpiece of the story, but it is not about them at all (for the most part they're only mentioned if they escape or nearly escape). It tells the story of a writer and his siblings who decide to buy a struggling zoo with their inheritance, and the fight to get it up and running again (while Mee also deals with the agonizing decline and death of his wife from brain cancer). It was surprisingly cool to read a book about a zoo which was written from an owner/manager's perspective rather than a keeper or outside journalist. There's a lot of detail about the logistics of purchasing the zoo and the kind of decisions that go into building it back up again, with an unusual amount of attention paid to mundane issues of fixing up a cafeteria or constructing buildings. It's also refreshing to hear from someone who is not immersed in the current zoo mindset (particularly dealing with the subject of what animals are "zoologically significant" to conservation...and what you do with all the ones that aren't) and questions all of the accepted ways to do things.

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