Written by the president of the nation’s number-one zoo, Sailing with Noah is an intensely personal, behind-the-scenes look at modern zoos. Jeffrey P. Bonner, who was trained as an anthropologist and came to the zoo world quite by accident, shares some of the most compelling stories ever told about contemporary zoos. The stories jump between zoos in different cities and between countries on different continents. Some are fun and funny. Others are sad, even tragic. Pete Hoskins, the director of the Philadelphia Zoo, is in bed, sound asleep, when his phone rings. . . . “There’s been a fire in the World of Primates,” he is told. “You’ve got to get over here.” Whatever he has been dreaming, it is nothing like the nightmare he will find now that he is awake. . . . “They’re all gone. They’re all gone.” All of the animals in the building—the gorillas, the lemurs, the orangutans, and the gibbons—all twenty-three of them are dead.
Written in a lively, accessible style, Sailing with Noah explores the role of zoos in today’s society and their future as institutions of education, conservation, and research. Along the way, Bonner relates a variety of true stories about animals and those who care for them (or abuse them), offering his perspective on heavily publicized incidents and describing less-well-known events with compassion and humor in turn. By bringing the stories of the animals’ lives before us, Bonner gives them a voice. He strongly believes that zoos must act for living things, and he argues that conservation is a shared responsibility of all mankind. This book helps us to understand why biodiversity is important and what it means to be a steward of life on earth.
From the day-to-day aspects of caring for some of the world’s most exotic creatures to the role of zoos as field conservation organizations, saving wild things in wild places, this book takes the reader on an incredible journey—a journey that begins within the zoo and continues around the globe. Everyone—from zoo visitors to animal lovers to professional conservationists, the young and old alike—will be fascinated by this extraordinary book.