Tails And Misadventures In The San Diego Zoo

I have lived in many places over the years, and there is no question in my mind that San Diego is my favorite city. It offers perfect weather, friendly people, and more tourist attractions than you can shake a fist at. One of the biggest tourist attractions is the San Diego Zoo. In physical size it is not the largest Zoo in the world, but, it does hold the record for number of different animals. Better still it is a Zoo that prides itself on removing the bars. Watching animals in a cage turns my blood cold, I would not want to be behind bars, and neither do animals.

Author Bill Seaton worked as the PR guy for the zoo in the 1960’s, and My Seven Years In Captivity is a very personal look at the San Diego zoo. This is by no means a serious book, it is very much humor, yet there is an undertone that reveals the love that Bill has for this wonderful establishment and the love that those working at the zoo have for the animals.

For 10 years I was a season pass holder to the zoo. I have no idea how many hours we spent there, the kids knew their way around the zoo better than they knew the area that we lived in! The San Diego zoo, and the Animal Park some miles out of the city should be on everyones ‘must do’ list.

Bill Seaton takes us behind the scenes of the San Diego zoo during the 1960’s. This is a delightfully written book that permits the reader to become part of a wonderful organization. High on humor, we see that that old saying ‘life is a zoo’ is indeed true!

Few people understand just how difficult it is to run a zoo, animals it turns out are just as cantankerous as human beings. They have unique personalities, some are friendly, some are grumpy, and some are off the wall. Bill tells a wonderful story about a duck. This cranky bird got along fine with women but not men, if you were male you risked a serious pecking if you got near this duck.

Bill also manages to sneak in a recipe. I like this one so much, I have to share it with you:

Recipe For Elephant Stew

1 elephant (med size)
2 rabbits (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Brown gravy (lots)

Cut elephant into small, bite sized pieces. This will take about two months. Add brown gravy to cover. Cook over kerosene fire for about 4 weeks at 462 degrees.

This will serve 3,800 people. If more are expected, the two rabbits may be added, but do this only if necessary as most people do not like to find hare in their stew.

Although the book contains much humor it also reflects the dedication of the people working at the zoo. For many this is not a job, this is a lifestyle. Work and home life blur together. These men and women make great sacrifices so that we, the members of the public can enjoy seeing the animals.

My Seven Years In Captivity should be on everyones ‘to read’ list, This is the ideal book for people that just want to read a few pages at a time. It is not one story, it is a series of stand alone vignettes of life.

You can pick up your copy from Amazon.

Simon Barrett


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