Bridge to the Wild: Behind the Scenes at the Zoo
Bridge to the Wild: Behind the Scenes at the Zoo
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Annotation: Describes a day in the life of a zoo curator at the Atlanta Zoo, and the lives of the animals they help, from an aging orangutan to baby panda twins, describing the importance of zookeepers and animal welfare.
Genre: Biology
Catalog Number: #119599
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel Manga Manga
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2016
Illustrator: Rodwell, T. C.,
Pages: 202 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-544-27739-2
ISBN 13: 978-0-544-27739-7
Dewey: 636.088
LCCN: 2015024535
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
This high-interest nonfiction aims to inspire the next generation of conservationists by helping young readers delve deeper into their zoo experience. With the help of Rebecca Snyder, the curator of mammals at Zoo Atlanta, O'Connell goes behind the scenes at one of the nation's largest zoological parks to see how animals live in captivity even when they are not on display. Pandas, meerkats, hornbills, and orangutans are just a few of the species she observes. Animal behaviors and adaptive responses are detailed through the lens of their life away from their natural habitat. O'Connell describes the day-to-day work of caretakers and veterinarians, exploring how they collect data, offer diagnoses, and apply findings to make long-term decisions about each species. Descriptions of habitat destruction and poaching are a call to arms for conservation efforts, and the book emphasizes the important work that reputable zoos do to advocate for endangered species. O'Connell's love of animals is undeniable, and young readers will identify with the personal details and warm observations she includes.
Horn Book
O'Connell and co-photographer Rodwell present an in-depth (and in this case favorable) view of the workings of a major zoo--Zoo Atlanta--and the personalities of many of its residents. Through her first-person narration, full of curiosity, enthusiasm, humor, and respect for animals, O'Connell exposes a biologist's thinking process. The final chapter emphasizes the important conservation and education missions of zoos. Bib., ind.

Kirkus Reviews
Targeting young readers as "the next generation of conservationists," O'Connell shares observations, research, and photographs (taken with Rodwell, her husband) from a week spent with the animals and keepers at Zoo Atlanta.Scientist O'Connell's field work with elephants in Namibia has engendered several popular works, including Sibert honoree, co-authored by Donna M. Jackson, The Elephant Scientist (2011). Here, she unfurls her day-by-day, behind-the-scenes experiences at the zoo. She observes elephants, pandas, and the large populations of gorillas and orangutans, all under the guidance of mammal curator Rebecca Snyder. Other keepers introduce her to their work with reptiles and birds, and she accompanies the zoo's vet on her rounds. In addition to presenting absorbing facts about pandas, Komodo dragons, lion tamarins, and other species, O'Connell acquaints readers with scientific information and methodology. She explains the significance of dominance hierarchies, parenting behaviors, the sensory adaptations of reptiles, and much more, and she introduces types of data sheets used to observe animals. O'Connell presents the modern zoo in a clear light, acknowledging the challenges of replicating favorable conditions for the social, physical, and reproductive health of the exhibited animals. Her final day at Zoo Atlanta occurs on Endangered Species Day, affording an apt backdrop for highlighting the severe threats posed by global habitat degradation and poaching. An important, engaging introduction to a modern zoo, its dedicated staff, and the fascinating animals in its care. (bibliography, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)
Publishers Weekly
The husband-and-wife team of O-Connell and Rodwell (A Baby Elephant in the Wild) broaden their focus from elephants to a range of animals via a tour of Zoo Atlanta. Accessible text and intimate photographs spotlight the residents and staffers at the zoo, capturing the creatures- dispositions and distinctive appearances, as well as the dedication and compassion of the humans who care for them. Over 13 chapters, O-Connell uses a relaxed first-person narrative to explore animals- methods of communicating with members of their own species (as well as with their keepers), social and family dynamics, behavioral differences between animals living in captivity and their counterparts in the wild, and how captive breeding programs have helped increase the population of endangered species. Sidebars and captions supply ancillary information and some fun trivia: flamingos- pink hue comes from the beta carotene in the marine crustaceans they eat, and pandas have developed a - -pseudo-thumb- that helps them quickly shuck a bamboo shoot of its outer coating.- Readers should find the book-s facts and photos intriguing, and the collaborators- curiosity and passion inspiring. Ages 10-12. (Aug.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 47 O'Connell takes readers through five days of behind-the-scenes access to a number of different exhibits while introducing some of the amazing inhabitants of Zoo Atlanta. There is so much more happening at a zoo than just the proper care and feeding of the animal residents, and O'Connell shares a number of the projects and the people behind them. For example, researchers are looking for ways to increase the likelihood of panda reproduction in captivity, which has proven elusive and difficult. O'Connell also makes clear how important the veterinarians are to the zoo and how they keep a constant eye on all of their charges so that no small illness turns into a larger one or spreads to other animals. The author mingles her narration about her visits to the zoo with animal facts and explanations about behavior, which are often denoted with a different typeface and color. The highlight, and really the focus, is on the special access she was given, a chance to learn about the people who work with the animals, and the mission of zoos to protect species and help world populations of animals. Photographs are dotted throughout the book and give a visual immediacy to the text. VERDICT A solid offering to young animal lovers. Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages [190-191]) and index.
Word Count: 31,622
Reading Level: 8.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 8.0 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 185665 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:10.9 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q68259
Lexile: NC1210L
Guided Reading Level: Z

Hear crisp sounds of the hornbill in the cool air. Listen to the morning symphony that greets you as you enter the front gate. Then, step onto a leafy path that leads to a secret world of animals, each of whom you won't want to forget, here at Zoo Atlanta. Over five days we meet a menagerie of magnificent animals--pandas, elephants, gorillas, meerkats, flamingos and more--alongside the longtime animal lover, scientist, and researcher Caitlin O'Connell. With inside access to the guidance and knowledge of their beloved zoo caretakers and with stunning photographs, we are able to see the day-to-day marvels--and sometimes misfortunes--behind the animals' enclosures that often go unseen by the everyday zoo visitor. In this example of narrative nonfiction at its best, O'Connell has created a bridge to wild, a rare chance to look beyond the zoo and to inspire guests to see for themselves just how special the animals we share our world with are.

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