Actually I picked it up accidentally. I was browsing the school library and happened to go in the Nature section. OOOPS!
Author: Stephen St C Bostock
I always like to start with how I liked the author and the way he wrote. If I dont like the author's tone, I dont tend to like the book much. I liked Bostock though. He was obviously passionate about the subject. You could tell he really was into animal welfare. He makes numerous references to factory farming and how he finds it appalling. He even referenced Peter Singer (author of Animal Liberation) at least twice. Even though factory farming wasn't the topic of the book, I was very glad that he brought it up. When I reviewed Eating Apes I was confused, and maybe a little disappointed by how the author had such a concern for eating apes, but not any other animal.
The author is in favor of zoos. He really did make a compelling arguement for their existence. The book is very well researched. He focused on how zoos help converse endangered species. He describes how the problems of human overpopulation and habitat destruction leave people with concerns for animal welfare little choice but to turn to zoos. He talks about the benefits of a good zoo: greater appreciation for animals, how we've advanced in animal care, ethology, anatomy (of deceased animals), and genetics.
He additionally talks about how, in a well managed zoo, most animals are not miserable. He explains that zoos should try to enrich the animal's lives in order to produce as much natural behavior as possible. He talks about the different enclosures utilized by zoos to give the animals the best experience possible. One interesting section of the book is when he compares human captivity to animal captivity in a good zoo. He believes that most animals in zoos do become semi tame after a period of time. Did you know that Jane Goodall even advocates zoos?
The only problem I had with the book was that it appeared too positive. Its true that he neglected to talk about animal neglect in zoos because its covered by other authors he's referred to. Still, if youre going to convince people that zoos are decent places it would be convincing to list more successes and advances in regards to certain species of animals kept in captivity and perhaps to compare the rates of 'successful' zoos to more neglectful zoos (are there more good zoos or bad zoos?). I'm not saying I still dont have any qualms about zoos, heck the author has his own, I'm just saying they are not the insitutions of evil some activists make them out to be.
All in all its a good, informative read and also a good book to give someone who is very skeptical about the nature of zoos. As for me, heck I'd love to go the zoo when there's finally some nice weather here. ;)