Bridge to the Wild: Behind the Scenes at the Zoo by Caitlin O’Connell, with photographs by Caitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwell

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers


Summary:  Caitlin O’Connell, elephant scientist and science writer, expands her horizons here to many other zoo animals.  Touring Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, she gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at how zoo staff study animal behavior.  Readers will learn how panda mothers interact with their babies, how hierarchies work with various social animals like elephants and gorillas, and how zoo staff handle deadly poisonous snakes.  Much of what is learned about animals in captivity can be applied to helping species survive in the wild.  The last chapter describes ways humans have been able to help endangered animals such as Brazil’s lion tamarin.  Includes extensive bibliography, source notes, and index.  208 pages, grades 5-7.

Pros:  Animal lovers will learn a lot from this book, and come away with a new appreciation for zoos and the people who work there.  Excellent photographs illustrate almost every page.  Chapters could be read in isolation by those interested in a specific animal.

Cons:  At 208 pages, it will take a pretty dedicated young zoologist to get through the whole book.

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