Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo – Review

Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad ZooPoachingFacts rating: 5 of 5 stars

Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo is a worthwhile read for anyone impacted by the U.S.-led coalition’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, or anyone with an interest in wildlife preservation. Written by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence it adds another perspective to the conflict and highlights not only the lives led by the city’s inhabitants during the inter-war period until the outbreak of conflict but also the lives of the animals in the Baghdad Zoo and those kept by the Saddam family in their lavish homes.

With more determination than a plan, Anthony set out to rescue animals who were as unaccustomed to warfare as the people of Baghdad. On his journey he meets an array of selfless individuals willing to lend a hand. These courageous people include zoo employees hoping to return to work even as fighting continues in the city, South African private security volunteering their own time to guard the dangerous area around the zoo, and American forces that volunteer their time, rations, and money to help Anthony on his quest to save all the remaining zoo animals – and those across the city who have been caught up in illegal wildlife trafficking and are held in poor conditions.

Perhaps most profound about this wartime rescue is not the way that it occurred, but that so many people — mostly soldiers and security forces — were willing to help animals at their own risk while fighting in a foreign country with little if any compensation in return. The courage and leadership qualities exhibited by Anthony to travel to the Middle East, to talk his way into a city engulfed in turmoil, to establish the necessary basic requirements to see that the remaining animals were able to survive, and to get Iraqis, Americans, and South Africans working together is incredible. It truly shows what a great man he was and that there are people from all over the world willing to take part in conserving wildlife and providing a foundation for stability in a war-torn city.

Though Lawrence Anthony passed away in 2012, his Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization continues his tradition and values of pursuing practical conservation projects aimed at making the world a better place for humans and wildlife.

Other Books by the Author:

Since the publication of Babylon’s Ark Lawrence Anthony has written two other true stories, with the help of Graham Spence, chronicling his other personal adventures in conservation.

The Elephant Whisperer recounts his experiences and success in providing a home to an elephant herd recently traumatized after having one of its members shot for being a “problem elephant.” Anthony does his best to create a situation that is suitable to the elephants on his Thula Thula Game Reserve and that does not endanger any of the people living or working nearby. He quickly finds that the elephants are both very clever and very determined not to be caged and deported from their natural homes and Anthony must contend not only with the will of the matriarch, but also the emotions of the herd itself. Along this journey he notes many amazing characteristics of elephants and emphasizes their capacity to interpret and understand the world around them.

The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures details Anthony’s attempt to save the Northern White Rhino from rampant poaching as a result of demand from China and Southeast Asia. He journeys into the heart of Central Africa where rebels and militia groups reign, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, and fights to save the rhinoceros species native to that area. As of November 2015 the last three of the Northern White Rhinos live in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.


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