Hear crisp sounds of the hornbill in the cool air.
Listen to the morning symphony that greets you as you enter the front gate.
Then, step onto a leafy path that leads to a secret world of animals, each of whom you won’t want to forget, here at Zoo Atlanta.
Over five days we meet a menagerie of magnificent animals—pandas, elephants, gorillas, meerkats, flamingos and more—alongside the longtime animal lover, scientist, and researcher Caitlin O’Connell. With inside access to the guidance and knowledge of their beloved zoo caretakers and with stunning photographs, we are able to see the day-to-day marvels—and sometimes misfortunes—behind the animals’ enclosures that often go unseen by the everyday zoo visitor.
In this example of narrative nonfiction at its best, O’Connell has created a bridge to wild, a rare chance to look beyond the zoo and to inspire guests to see for themselves just how special the animals we share our world with are.
The husband-and-wife team of O'Connell and Rodwell (A Baby Elephant in the Wild) broaden their focus from elephants to a range of animals via a tour of Zoo Atlanta. Accessible text and intimate photographs spotlight the residents and staffers at the zoo, capturing the creatures' dispositions and distinctive appearances, as well as the dedication and compassion of the humans who care for them. Over 13 chapters, O'Connell uses a relaxed first-person narrative to explore animals' methods of communicating with members of their own species (as well as with their keepers), social and family dynamics, behavioral differences between animals living in captivity and their counterparts in the wild, and how captive breeding programs have helped increase the population of endangered species. Sidebars and captions supply ancillary information and some fun trivia: flamingos' pink hue comes from the beta carotene in the marine crustaceans they eat, and pandas have developed a " pseudo-thumb' that helps them quickly shuck a bamboo shoot of its outer coating." Readers should find the book's facts and photos intriguing, and the collaborators' curiosity and passion inspiring. Ages 10 12.