Wild Animals in Captivity by Rob Laidlaw

Read: 17 September, 2008

I read this recently as part of my job and I must say that it was really quite interesting. It’s a quick read with lots of good pictures (some cute, some heartbreaking) and I feel that I did learn quite a bit reading it.

Wild Animals is written with a young (tween to early teen) audience in mind. Unlike most reference book authors for that age bracket, Laidlaw never comes off as condescending and certainly never minimizes the role children have to play in animal welfare. Quite the opposite, he challenges young readers to examine zoos for themselves and determine whether they are animal-friendly or not. If not, he provides a list of steps even the youngest animal welfare advocate can take to fix the situation, which includes such “grown-up” things as writing to their local newspapers.

I think my favourite part of the book comes near the end where he juxtaposes good conditions with bad ones. Rather than just say that zoos are bad or complain about everything that can go wrong, he actually cites examples where zoos (or parks) have had the right idea and improved conditions.

Because the book avoids talking down to the reader, it is certainly appropriate for adults. I recommend it for anyone, of any age, with a budding interest in animal welfare issues.

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