Babylon 's Ark : The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo

Babylon 's Ark : The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence

Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martinís Press
March 2007, 240 pages
ISBN: 0312358326

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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.

Editorial Reviews

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)

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From Booklist
*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.
Nancy Bent
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 awareness.

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 individuals.

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 giraffe.

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 and others.

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 Reserve.

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 Broadcasting Corporation.

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 2003.

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 journalism.

In August 2000 he moved to England and lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons.

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