Babylon 's Ark :
The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
Anthony with Graham Spence
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martinís Press
March 2007, 240 pages
When the Iraq war began, conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only
one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, located in the city center and caught in
the war's crossfire. Once Anthony entered Baghdad he discovered that full-scale
combat and uncontrolled looting had killed nearly all the animals of the zoo.
But not all of them. U.S. soldiers had taken the time to help care for the
remaining animals, and the zoo's staff had returned to work in spite of the
constant firefights. Together the Americans and Iraqis had managed to keep alive
the animals that had survived the invasion.
Babylon's Ark chronicles the zoo's transformation from bombed-out rubble
to peaceful park. Along the way, Anthony recounts hair-raising efforts to save a
pride of the dictator's lions, close a deplorable black-market zoo, and rescue
Saddam's Arabian horses. His unique ground-level experience makes Babylon's Ark
an uplifting story of both sides working together for the sake of innocent
animals caught in the war's crossfire.
From Publishers Weekly
Anthony, a South African conservationist and recipient of the U.N.'s Earth Day
award, details how, through a series of complex maneuvers, he entered Iraq after
the American invasion and led the fight to save what was left of the Baghdad
Zoo. Most of the animals were killed by war and looting; the remainder were
starved and in filthy cages, with no staff to care for them. Anthony describes
how he, along with the zoo's former deputy director and several brave workers,
risked daily danger to save the bears, lions, tigers, monkeys and birds. Anthony
fended off looters with a gun obtained from a sympathetic U.S. soldier, spent
his own funds for equipment and bartered the use of a satellite phone for food
and other essentials. Anthony vividly recounts the rescue of other animals,
including the inhabitants of the appalling Luna Park Zoo and Saddam's prize
Arabian horses, saved from the hands of black marketeers. The author takes no
position on the invasion. His goal is for his mission, so dramatically recounted
with journalist Spence's help, to set an example of conservation and respect for
animal life. 8 pages of color photos. (Mar. 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All
*Starred Review* The story of the rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, once the finest in
Arabia, begins with Anthony and two keepers from the Kuwait City Zoo as they
find themselves driving the only vehicle attempting to cross the border into
Iraq. The Americans had just completed their "shock and awe" campaign, and South
African conservationist Anthony knew that the zoo, located in the heart of
Baghdad , would need help. In all cases of human hostility, animals get caught
in the middle, often suffering horribly, and Anthony felt he had to do
something. What follows is a truly remarkable book, as Anthony pulled strings,
made connections (legal and illegal), sweet-talked bureaucrats, and made
miracles happen as he, with the help of the American military, brought the
Baghdad Zoo back from the brink. Ferrying fetid water from canals in buckets
"liberated" from a former five-star hotel; feeding the animals moldy vegetables
and the soldiers' MREs; defending the zoo from looters; and rescuing the remains
of Saddam Hussein's private menagerie, Anthony and his companions somehow made
progress. Woven through the narrative is Anthony's obvious love of animals and
his anger at what they suffer at the hands of humans, lending a poignancy and
immediacy to the story.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Babylon 's Ark is a compelling story of one dedicated
man's efforts to save the abandoned animals of the Baghdad Zoo amidst the chaos,
danger and uncertainty of a city under siege during the coalition invasion of
2003. Lawrence Anthony shows his courage and intense devotion to the animal
kingdom as he risks his life in an effort to shut down the Baghdad Zoo and
rehabilitate it. Anthony's crusade for the animals of the Baghdad Zoo is truly
his line in the sand."
--Jay Kopelman, author of From Baghdad , With Love: A Marine, the War,
and A Dog Named Lava
Born in Johannesburg , South Africa in 1950, and raised in
Zimbabwe , Zambia , and Malawi , Lawrence attended boarding
school at King Edward 7th high school in Johannesburg , before
finishing school in Empangeni Zululand. Lawrence grew up in
remote rural areas of Africa where he established an early
relationship with the African bush.
Lawrence is a well known conservationist, environmentalist and
humanitarian. He is the longstanding head of conservation at
Thula Thula game reserve, the oldest private wildlife reserve in
the Province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.
His primary conservation focus is the education and involvement
of remote, rural communities in conservation and environmental
His personal wildlife focus is the African Elephant. Lawrence 's
unique relationship with wild Elephant on Thula Thula has
attracted much interest. His initiatives have resulted in the
successful rehabilitation of problem herds and traumatized
He is the founder THE EARTH ORGANIZATION, a privately
registered, non-profit, international society, the purpose of
which is to protect the environment and enhance the survival
potential of all life forms, through education and action.
He formed the first SPCA in Iraq under the curator ship of
Baghdad Veterinarian Dr Farah Murrani.and conservationist
Brendan Whittington - Jones.
Lawrence conducted the internationally acclaimed rescue of the
Baghdad Zoo during the onset of the coalition invasion of Iraq .
He negotiated a groundbreaking cease fire against
conservationists and game rangers with the Lords Resistance
Army, [LRA] a Ugandan rebel army who had invaded and occupied
the Garamba National Park in the North East of the Democratic
Republic of Congo, [DRC] threatening the survival of the
critically endangered Northern White Rhino and pygmy Gongo
His conservation and environmental initiatives have appeared on
CNN, BBC, SKY, and many other TV and Radio stations.
Lawrence's life and work have been the focus
of Newspaper articles around the world as well as numerous local
and international magazines, including Readers Digest, Shape
Magazine, the Smithsonian, Africa Geographic, SAA inflight mag
The book "Babylon's Ark" which tells the true story of his
rescue of the Baghdad Zoo is to be published by St Martins Press
of New York in early 2007. The story is currently being
developed into a major Hollywood movie production.
Lawrence is busy writing his second book about Thula Thula and
his extraordinary relationship with the wild Elephants on the
In 1993 Lawrence took time off from his wildlife activities to
actively participate with his Zulu friends and leaders in the
transition from Apartheid to a free non racial society. He
represented Zulu leaders on two TEC interim government
committees, including the panel for the electronic media, which
appointed the board of Directors for the South African National
He attended the first ever Iraq Human Rights conference held in
Dahuk, Kurdistan in 2003, as a principle guest speaker at the
invitation of the Kurdistan Minister of Human Rights. He
formally presented the South African model for the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission to members of the Iraq Governing
Council, and senior members of the Iraq judiciary in Baghdad in
GRAHAM SPENCE was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Mozambique
and educated in South Africa.
He started journalism as a reporter in Durban, South Africa and
was soon covering the anti-apartheid riots that engulfed the
country in 1976.
During the 1980s he was involved in frontline reporting as South
Africa erupted in widespread political upheaval.
In 1993 he was appointed Editor of one of South Africaís fastest
growing regional newspapers, the Zululand Observer.
He has won awards for column writing and investigative
In August 2000 he moved to England and lives in Berkshire with
his wife and two sons.