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published: May 2008
ISBN:9781554558308

Wild Animals in Captivity

by Rob Laidlaw

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animal welfare
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rated!
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list price: $21.95
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Hardcover
published: May 2008
ISBN:9781554558308
Description

On the School Library Journal's Best Books 2008 list
On the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association YA Top Forty list for 20082009 Silver Birch Nominee

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.

About the Author
Rob Laidlaw has devoted his life to protecting animals and empowering others to do the same. He is the founder of several animal protection organizations and an author of 6 children's books about animal welfare and activism. No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs won the OLA Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award and the Hackmatack Award; its companion book, Cat Champions: Caring for our Feline Friends, was a finalist for the same awards. Rob lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Author profile page >
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
8 to 11
Grade:
3 to 6
Reading age:
8 to 12

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Wild Animals in Captivity

reviewed from galleys

Did you know that as many as 15,000 pet tigers live in backyards and basements across North America? There are few standards or restrictions on owning wildlife and too many wild animals are captive in small, dirty, unsuitable surroundings. Rob Laidlaw is the director of Zoocheck Canada, a wildlife protection organization. Laidlaw has spent 20 years travelling around the world examining wildlife in captivity and he has come to the conclusion that wild animals belong in the wild and not in zoos. This is an honest and powerful book that takes a hard look at how we keep animals captive and how we can ensure that the animal’s needs come first.

As a child, Laidlaw’s first visit to a zoo was the Riverdale Zoo, a small, Victorianera zoo in the heart of Toronto. He was fascinated by animals but saddened by what he saw there. In his role at Zoocheck Canada, he continues to see animals living captive lives in spaces that bear no relation to their natural environment. He sees animals exhibiting unnatural behaviour when they are forced to live in conditions that are unnatural.

Of course, there is a wide variety of captive environments. Large, publicly owned zoos, such as the Toronto Zoo, are better at meeting the needs of their animals than small, privately-owned roadside zoos. Laidlaw outlines five freedoms that animals need for a sense of well-being, and he gives kids a list of questions to ask when visiting a zoo and looking at the animals. He suggests 10 ways that we can help wild animals in captivity. The final chapter lists a few zoos that are on the right track when it comes to animal welfare.

The director of the Detroit Zoo says, “The zoo is the window into our humanity and how we treat other things in nature.” This is an important book that, through good storytelling and the passionate voice of its author, gives us a window into the world of captive animals. If we are going to keep animals captive at all, we should make it our goal to take care of them in the best way possible. Recommended for school and public libraries.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2008. Vol.31 No.3.

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