Americans like their zoos. In fact, they like them more than their NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball Games, combined. More than 175 million Americans flock to zoos and aquariums every year, for a close-up look at Sumatran tigers, South African elephants, and chimpanzees. But are zoos adequately equipped to care for these animals and is the spectacle—for some humans who may never travel to see these animals in their natural habitat—worth the money and effort it takes to keep the animals captive? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas French takes a microscope behind the scenes of some of the country’s major zoos to examine the morally complex and seemingly intractable dilemmas behind extinction, conservation, and our notions of freedom and captivity.
Thomas French, former St. Petersburg Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter; his latest book is Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives