When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony arrives in Baghdad during the Iraq War determined to rescue the animals from the city's zoo, the situation is dire. Fortunately with help from unexpected quarters, and against all the odds, his unrelenting efforts pay off.
From bartering for food in the war-torn streets and preventing the remaining animals from being looted, through to saving Saddam's lions and Arabian horses, this is a thrilling adventure of courageous people committed to saving animals. A war-zone story with a difference.
Comments from Groups
We had a big discussion on this book. We felt it could have been shortened, but it gave an interesting insight into the immediate aftermath of war. A story of a very determined and dedicated man. Christchurch 176
The initial reaction of some group members to "Babylon's Ark" was to question its suitability as a group discussion book. Some also commented about the final chapters seeming like a 'plug' for the author's organisation and website. However we quickly got into a fruitful and lively discussion about the various issues raised in the book, re the fate of the animal population in times of war, and also the effect of war on the population in general. This book was not just about the plight of the animals, but presented all too vivid a cameo on conditions as they existed in Iraq at the time.
The book was very informative at many levels,and sparked wide discussion and all agreed, although it was an unusual choice of book, it touched the heart and provoked thought. There were general expressions of satisfaction all round at the end of the evening. All agreed it was worthwhile. Te Anau 001
This is a true story of the late South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony's commitment to help save the animals, now barely surviving, at the Baghdad zoo in war torn Iraq. This book expresses deep feelings of disbelief at man's inhumane treatment to life; our planet; and tragically to those creatures caged and unable to fend for themselves - bringing to the fore in our discussion, the ethics of keeping any animal caged and far from their natural environment. This book is an informative and emotional journey that we would highly recommend. Tauranga 022
Everyone was highly impressed with Lawrence Anthony, and his courage and sheer determination in the salvaging of he Baghdad zoo. It was also an illuminating exposure of the Iraq war, and the destruction and wrecking of a country. Christchurch 145
Not a 'captivating' read despite a fascinating storyline. Auckland 063
The writer was very single-minded about the animals. We'd have liked to learn more about the local humans - the zoo workers, etc. Wellington 144
Loved the book. Very informative. Very well written. Matamata 004
Many of us had seen the movie, The Zookeeper's Wife, so felt we could understand the commitment shown to the animals, though the book form seemed less harrowing. The discussion on different priorities in time of war remains an ever-changing horror. Learning about the background to the animals' plight was most informative. The day-to-day accounts raised so many issues to discuss. It did feel a long read with some repetition.
We found this book eye-opening, inspiring and definitely worth reading. It was well-written and, even those in our group who confessed to not being animal-lovers were horrified at the situations described.
Our group had a mixed reaction to this book. Most enjoyed it and found it a real eye-opener as they hadn't really ever given thought to the salvage of animals in a war-torn country. An enlightening and interesting story with admiration for the author for the risks he took in such a dangerous environment. Many were not impressed with the conservation lesson for the last chapter.
Initially there was considerable misgiving about reading a book recounting violence to animals, but 4 weeks later the reaction was very positive. All of the group had really enjoyed the story, as well as learning much about diverse subjects such as Eastern politics, Americans at war, the Hussein family, Arabian horses, and leadership in chaotic circumstances. The lively hour long discussion led to much debate re the ethics of keeping animals in cages, necessitating the killing of other animals to feed them, and Anthony's profound statements about the abuse we hand out to the planet we live in.
Another book greatly enjoyed by every member.
Very readable. The writer has a journalistic style that suits the material. The picture of the appalling destruction of Baghdad is well drawn. Not a book members would usually have chosen, but most agreed an interesting read.
What a book! Shocking and graphic, yet beautifully written and with frequent injections of humour amid the savagery and the squalor. Interestingly, he commends others for their bravery, but makes light of his own. Truly a remarkable account of his -and their- efforts. Good discussion on the corrupting effects of total power.
A disturbing but uplifting story. The disturbing realities of war, but how uplifting that there are people willing to put their lives at risk for others, or for animals. All enjoyed the book.
Good lively discussion. Some found it hard to "get into", but it got better. interesting views on the role of media - disinformation, then later publicity of the zoo's plight and moving of animals.
Most found they had a strong emotional response to the plight of the Iraqi people as well as the fate of the animals. All agreed the book was well-written with compelling imagery. The lessons about anarchy/lack of governance were noted. Some mixed views on the "adventurer"/"conservationist".
This is a hard book to judge, in that there is a conflict when one considers is it more important to aid the humans, or do the animals deserve saving just as much
A provocative and inspiring account. We recommend this book.
We didn't have a meeting to discuss this, but I know we all found it very readable and interesting. The last chapter was scary, especially if you include pandemics!
An extraordinary story. None of us had ever considered the plight of animals trapped in zoos during a war. We all admired the author and found his story inspiring.