Saving the Bagdhad Zoo

February 10, 2010

Saving the Baghdad Zoo

By Kelly Milner Halls and

Major William Sumner


ISBN: 9780061772023


Ages 10+

“Contrary to televisions and newspaper reports, the zoo had not been torn apart by stray explosive. Animals had not been killed by military fire or missiles. But only thirty-two of the five hundred creatures once on display were still caged. Hundreds were missing, butchered for food or stolen for sale as exotic pets on the Iraqi lack market. Even two giraffes, new residents delivered the day before the first bombs fell, had simply vanished.”

Setting out on his mission to archive the priceless relics remaining in the Baghdad Archaeological Museum, Captain William Sumner of the U.S. Army 354th Civil Affairs Brigade didn’t know his mission was about to change. A detour to investigate the state of the Baghdad Zoo set Captain Sumner on a journey to save the few remaining starving, caged animals left following the exit of Saddam Hussein and his family.

Working with loyal zookeepers, relief organizations, the U.S. Army, and a legion of others, Captain Sumner worked to rescue and feed the abandoned zoo animals left. Case by case, individual animals and their subsequent fate are explored in the text and the exceptional efforts of the caregivers are detailed both in the text and sidebars.

Remarkable photos highlight the plight of the rescued animals and show their situation today. The Baghdad Zoo is again open to the people of Iraq and is a symbol of the hopes for safety and freedom for Iraq, a small sanctuary for the people who live among uncertainty of a country struggling to right itself.

This story is the first book to show this story and it is heart wrenching to read. The one quibble I have with the book is the introductory sidebar introducing a political point of view through a criticism of the invasion. I feel the book would have been stronger as a zoo rescue story set amid a war torn country without politics setting the tone initially.  That, perhaps, should be another book. But whatever the views on the war, the heart of this story is the humanity, and that is its main focus. Saving the Baghdad Zoo is a remarkable book with a fascinating story of hope.

Activity 1 (younger audience)

Research the daily food needs for five of the animals from the book. Create a bar graph to show the differences in the requirements.

Activity 2 (older audience)

Choose an animal highlighted in the book. Trace the life cycle of the animal from gestation to adulthood, using quantitative data you researched.

Zoo update from North Carolina zoo (most recent I could find)

North Carolina Zoo

National Science Standards:  Structure and function in living systems, reproduction and heredity

Book donated by publisher through Librarian’s Choices Committee, TWU

Happy Holidays

December 2, 2009

I am taking off the month of December and will return to SimplyScience the first week in January. I’m facing a two book deadline -YAY!–and will be enjoying the  holidays as well.

I hope to see you back in January. I have a stack of books waiting for the new year. Thank you to everyone who visited SimplyScience this year.

Waiting For Winter

November 25, 2009

Waiting For Winter

By Sebastian Meschenmoser

Kane Miller, 2009

ISBN #978-1-935279-04-4


“Winter is almost here,” said Deer. “I think it’s going to snow.”

“Snow?” asked Squirrel.

“Snow,” answered Deer. “White and wet and cold and soft.”

This simple story tells of the wait by squirrel to see snow, and as he waits and tries to stay awake he awakens hedgehog. Hedgehog decides to join him and in order for them to stay awake, they sing sea shanties. In the process of singing, however, they awaken bear, who decides to join them and see snow himself. Each of them in turn finds what he thinks is snow, until they all sit down….and it snows. The final endpapers show the result of their snow adventure.

A great deal of the action is portrayed by the minimal pencil drawings tinted with a hint of color and the short text moves the story along nicely. All together, the art and words make a fun and funny anticipation for the coming winter.


Define hibernation and dormancy. Look up some animals and see if they hibernate or go dormant for the winter.

This site has good kid-friendly information.

Here’s another good explanation.

This site includes migration and adaptations along with hibernation and dormancy.

National Science Standard: Life cycles of organisms

Book from Publisher for Librarian’s Choices Book Award Committee, TWU


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