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Wild Animals in Captivity [Hardcover]

Rob Laidlaw
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 26 2008
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

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.

Product Details

Product Description


"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."

-- Starred Review, School Library Journal

"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."

-- Kirkus

"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.

Highly Recommended."

-- 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."

-- Canadian 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.

Highly Recommended"

-- 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

About the Author

Rob Laidlaw has spent the past 25 years campaigning to protect wild animals in captivity and in the wild. His work has taken him from the polar north to tropical Asia and includes more than 1,000 visits to zoos around the world. A Chartered Biologist, avid outdoorsman, and cave explorer, he is a founder of the wildlife protection organization Zoocheck Canada.

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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wild Animals in Captivity is a visually stunning and engagingly written book that tells the story of zoo animals and contrasts their lives to those "at home in the wild." Most zoos, from grim roadside exhibits to huge urban displays, are sadly wanting. But author Rob Laidlaw gives practical advice about how to evaluate animal treatment and lists ways to improve it. He also sees signs of progress - in 2005, for example, the venerable Detroit Zoo permanently shut down its elephant exhibit. Laidlaw also identifies compassionate models for the future, notably sanctuaries for the elephants, polar bears, whales, dolphins and Great Apes he believes should never be kept in zoos.

Wild Animals in Captivity combines captivating photographs with fact-filled sidebars and informative narrative that provides a cogent history of zoos as well as the ethology of the animals kept there. Though designed for young adults, it also held this mature reader in thrall. Elizabeth Abbott, animal advocate and author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History, A History of Celibacy and A History of Mistresses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Animals in Captivity by Rob Laidlaw April 5 2009
By Linda
This beautifully illustrated book helps kids to understand the difference between a good home for a wild animal and a bad home for a wild animal. No child should have to go to a zoo again and ask if this is OK - is the animal happy here? With the knowledge they gain in this book children will be able to answer that question for themselves. The world is changing and watching stressed animals in barren cement exhibits is no longer tolerable. Teaching the next generation ANOTHER WAY is THE ONLY WAY to make change. Rob Laidlaw did an excellent job.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating July 9 2008
Rob Laidlaw takes complex material and in a clear, non-condescending, and captivating manner explains it to young children. Rob has a way of making the reader experience what the wild animals in captivity are experiencing. Children will never see zoos through the same eyes again after having read the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must For Kids April 6 2009
A powerful and accessible argument for changing the way children (and adults) think about wild animals in captivity. A must read for wildlife lovers and for anyone who even occasionally visits a zoo.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a riveting account of the horrifying fates of animals held in captivity! May 21 2009
By D. Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
When Rob Laidlaw was a child his trips to the zoo left him with feelings of sadness because the animals held in captivity were kept in less than optimum conditions. Caged birds had no room to fly, monkeys were kept in small cages and there was a sad looking silverback gorilla that never failed to capture his attention. He "sat alone in a dark, concrete room behind steel bars and thick glass . . . with nothing for him to climb or play with." Rob, now the director of Zoocheck Canada, is determined to make a difference in the lives of these animals.

When animals are held in captivity, they do not act the same as those in their natural habitats and their lives are "completely dependent on people" and oftentimes exhibit very abnormal and unnatural behaviors (stereotypies). Other animals like elephants can develop infections in their feet and arthritis from standing on unnaturally hard surfaces and their inability to be able to rove long distances at will like they normally do in the wild. This book discusses and compares the differences, both mental and physical, between animals in the wild and those held in captivity. Meet Maggie, Keiko, Yupi, Wanda, Winky and learn about their fates. Read about the Five Freedoms animals should have and about the horrifying instances when they don't.

This is a riveting book and brings to light issues few adults are aware of, let alone young people. It is thorough, fascinating, alarming and the photographs almost insist the reader take a stance on the issue of keeping wild animals in captivity. With the emergence of the progressive zookeeper and people like Rob Laidlaw perhaps things will change. Would you like green algae growing in your hair? How about a case of unnecessary foot rot? Frank Buck didn't do us any favors when he started selling animals to zoos in the 1920s.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An educational children's picturebook Sept. 6 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Written for young people ages 8-12, Wild Animals in Captivity is an educational children's picturebook about what the lives of animals in captivity are really like. Author and founder of the wildlife protection organization Zoocheck Canada explains how to tell the difference between zoos that confine wild animals in dismal conditions unlike their real habitat, and progressive zoos that treat captive wild animals with compassion and respect. Illustrated with eye-catching color photography throughout, Wild Animals in Captivity encourages young readers to think long and hard about zoos, and closes with ten ways to help captive wild animals such as "Support wildlife sanctuaries that provide permanent homes for retired or neglected animals. Research the facility first because some places just call themselves sanctuaries. Real sanctuaries care for animals for the rest of their lives." Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important children's book July 9 2008
By Julianne Woodyer - Published on Amazon.com
Rob Laidlaw does a brilliant job of explaining the plight of captive animals through his stories, while not offending even the most sensitive children.

As a mother of a young child, I was thrilled to find this book and share it with my child.
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