Daily Archives: March 16, 2009

Anyone for the Zoo?

01_29_54-elephant_webWith all the warm weather we have been having  in the past week or so, I got the child-like desire to rush off to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium to see the animals awaken from their winter slumber. While on my journey, I noticed that we have some of the most fascinating animals residing at the zoo, many of which I knew little about. So I searched at the library and found some very informative books. Here are some of my favorites:

Sea Horses and Sea Dragons

Although this is  a children’s book, it is very informative about one of the zoo’s most exotic creatures – the sea dragon. While there are few books about sea dragons themselves, you can find plenty of information by researching sea horses, since they are members of the sea horse family.

Sea Otters

There isn’t a shortage of books written about these lovable sea mammals! In this particular book, John Love offers a wonderful introduction to the behavioral patterns of the sea otter along with an excellent outline of the trials and tribulations they face in the future.

The Elephant’s Secret Sense: The Hidden Life of the Wild Herds of Africa

The Pittsburgh Zoo is practically littered with elephants these days, which makes knowing so little about them almost  criminal! In this book, Caitlin O’Connell paints a detailed picture of elephant behavioral patterns in the wild. Also, she introduces a unique theory about the communication patterns of elephants.

Track of the Tiger: Legend and Lore of the Great Cat

Tigers, much like sea otters, have a plethora of books written about them. This particular book, however, stood out. Maurice Hornocker provides the reader a collection of essays written by a variety of  tiger lovers who describe their adoration of and  personal encounters with these  magnificent cats. Each provides a new insight to their behavior as well as the need for heightened conservation.

Komodo, the Living Dragon

The Komodo Dragon at the Pittsburgh Zoo, or No Name, is one of the more fascinating characters housed between the Asian Forest and the African Safari in warmer weather. Like the Sea Dragon, there was little I could find about the animal aside from a children’s book. Then, I stumbled across Richard Lutz’s Komodo, the Living Dragon in the Non-Fiction section and found it to be an incredible read. Not only is the nature of the Komodo Dragon described, but also their unique habitat. A great mix of travelogue with excellent insight.

Other great general books about zoos:

We Bought A Zoo by Benjamin Mee:  This is a fascinating read for anyone who ever fantasized about having  a zoo filled with exotic animals! Giving excellent insight into the financial, geographical and physical hurdles that come with undertaking such a task, Mee opens your eyes to the reality of being a zoo owner.  

And for anyone curious about the history of the zoo:

Zoo: A History of Zoological Gardens in the West

and

The Pittsburgh Zoo: A 100-Year History:  Probably one of the more nostalgic reads that has passed through my “to read” pile, this book is great for anyone who has been a longtime zoo goer and would like to see just how much it has changed over the years. 

Happy discoveries!

MA

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