Good Zoos! Bad Zoos!!
A large family of elephants ambles all day along a well-remembered route across the hot African savanna. Halfway around the world in a zoo in Alaska, a single female elephant paces back and forth in her cramped, concrete pen. During the sub-arctic winter, she lives alone in a dark barn.
As it plods great distances across the ice in the Canadian Arctic, a polar bear continually sniffs the wind, closing in on a ringed seal. In a zoo in Jakarta, another polar bear lies motionless on the concrete floor of its enclosure, panting in the tropical heat. Its fur has turned green from the algae growing inside its hollow guard hairs.
These scenes are at the heart of Wild Animals in Captivity — a book that focuses on wild animals living in captivity around the world. "Captive animals become stressed when they try to act naturally, but can't," the author writes. "In many zoos, you'll see them pacing, weaving, or sitting motionless. This is the animal's way of telling us that it's bored and unhappy. Wild animals need a rich and varied environment — things to do, space to roam, social groups, families to care for."
This is an eye-opening look at the lives of captive wild animals-at bad zoos, good zoos, and the best wild animal sanctuaries.
On the School Library Journal's Best Books 2008 list
On the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association YA Top Forty list for 2008
2009 Silver Birch Nominee
"Laidlaw presents a passionate, well-written, and well-researched argument against the practices of most zoos around the world. . . Despite the careful selection of photos that do not show active torture of animals, the book is heartbreaking. . . This title is likely to be controversial. It does not excuse the practices of our most hallowed zoos, and it criticizes the standards of the U.S. Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The issues raised in this important and powerful book will resonate with young and old."
— School Library Journal Starred Review
"Laidlaw effectively captures the plight faced by captive wild animals, even in major, apparently high-quality zoos. In four riveting chapters he explores first the general issues of life in captivity, then addresses specific, often severe, problems. . . This eye-opening look at zoo issues will strike a chord with readers and would be a useful addition to most collections."
"Wild Animals in Captivity is a well-designed, thorough, yet concise depiction of life for animals in captivity. Laidlaw's balanced presentation not only focuses on examples of inhumane treatment of animals in zoos but also gives instances of the best. . . Wild animals in Captivity will most certainly assist children in looking more thoughtfully at the zoos they visit.
— CM Magazine
" Laidlaw uses photographs to good effect, and these and the compelling case he makes for his opinions will provide considerable food for thought."
— The Globe and Mail
"This children's book by Zoocheck founder Rob Laidlaw is one of the most significant animal books that's been written in a long time."
— The Vancouver Humane Society
"What a nicely consciousness-raising book this is to share with kids about to enjoy a day at the zoo."
— The Toronto Star
"An honest and powerful book. . . An important book that, through good storytelling and the passionate voice of its author, gives us a window into the world of captive animals."
— Children's Book News
"Laidlaw has done an admirable job. Grade school and high school students alike will find this challenging book a remarkable reference."
— The Hamilton Spectator
"Illustrated with eye-catching color photography throughout, Wild Animals in Captivity encourages young readers to think long and hard about zoos.
— The Midwest Book Review
"Wild Animals in Captivity, proves to be an excellent resource for the next generation of animal welfare supporters. Unlike many books written for a tween or young teen audience, Wild Animals presents information in a factual and interesting way. Readers, both young and old, will appreciate a tone that educates without condescending."
— Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Newsletter