When the Iraq war began, conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, caught in the crossfire at the heart of the city. Once Anthony entered Iraq, he discovered that hostilities and uncontrolled looting had devastated the zoo and its animals. Working with members of the zoo staff and a few compassionate U.S. soldiers, Anthony defended the zoo, bartered for food on war-torn streets, and scoured bombed palaces for desperately needed supplies.
Babylon's Ark chronicles Anthony's hair-raising efforts to save a pride of Saddam's lions, close a deplorable black-market zoo, run ostriches through shoot-to-kill checkpoints, and rescue the dictator's personal herd of Thoroughbred Arabian horses.
"A wartime story with a joyful ending." (Kirkus)
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Engrossing, inspiring, and a little meandering
Strong message but slow
Yes I would consider another book by this author and reader. Lawrence Anthony did good work. He was an extraordinary man who followed his values despite the most difficult circumstances. He risked his own life repeatedly in order to do what was important to him. He made a positive difference in this world. Not many of us can say that.
I had given little thought about how zoos in a war zone would be impacted. This was a great educational piece. The book overall was good, but slow in places. I often found myself a bit bored and tuning out. There was too much time spent describing logistical details and not enough spent on the personalities of the rescued and recovering animals. I could have done without donkeys (almost daily) being killed with axes for food. It served no purpose to the overall story, and left a lasting image in my mind.
My favorite scene was when the ostriches, after living in extremely closed quarters in the zoo, experienced freedom for the first time (by escaping), and were racing down the war torn streets of Bagdad with Iraqi civilians (animal care takers) running behind them, holding on for dear life; as armed American soldiers stood beside tanks unable to believe their eyes, as the ostriches ran towards them.
It inspired me to pay closer attention, and to become more involved with local rescue organizations in my area.
I knew many Iraqi civilians were like people all over the world- trying to enjoy their lives, earn a living, raise their children, and so forth. I did not fully realize the impact war had on their lives. Of course I knew it had to be bad, but I gave it little thought I am ashamed to say. I had no idea how bad it must have been for them... Like the animals in the zoo, they were collateral damage.