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Book Review: Zoos of the Southwest

Discussion in 'TV, Movies, Books about Zoos & Wildlife' started by snowleopard, 27 Nov 2014.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Book Review: Zoos of the Southwest

    Zoos of the Southwest, by Fred Hood (aka "Arizona Docent" on ZooChat), is a book published in 2014 that explores zoos within the region of the American southwest. There are 17 zoos that are meticulously detailed in the book, ranging geographically from California (1 zoo), Arizona (5 zoos), New Mexico (2 zoos) and Texas (9 zoos). The book feels like a journey, as the first zoo is the most westerly of the bunch (Living Desert) and then there is a steady progression east before the final entry about Houston. The book is a celebration of zoos and there is glowing praise for many exhibits that are amongst the best in the nation. Outdated sections of zoos are downplayed but that is not a detriment to the writing as for the most part the southwest zoos that are the subject of the book are many of the very best zoological facilities in the nation.

    Zoos of the Southwest includes 19 chapters and it is 244 pages in length. The physical size of the book might not seem impressive (6 inches by 9 inches) but the depth of the publication is immense. The 17 zoos in the book are: Living Desert (California); Wildlife World, Phoenix, Out of Africa, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Reid Park (all Arizona); Rio Grande, Wildlife West (both New Mexico); El Paso, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Fort Worth, Dallas, Cameron Park, San Antonio, Caldwell, Gladys Porter and Houston (all Texas).

    Things begin with a 2-page introduction; Chapter 1 is a very brief history of zoos and an outline of the book; Chapters 2-18 focus on 17 American zoos in the southwest; Chapter 19 is called “Hot Summer Nights” and there is some information about photography at zoos that are open late during the summer. The 17 zoo reviews offer up a tremendous amount of detail on each establishment; again with the feel of a journey as the author walks the reader through each zoological delight. Every review features a page of basic information such as hours, admission, address, unique features and other facts. Then the fun begins as each zoo has approximately 12 pages that describe all of the exhibits and animals along with a series of stunning photographs. The book has a whopping 288 photos that are of amazing clarity; many of the shots seem as if they were taken in the wild as the animals are set against beatific natural backdrops.

    The author has clearly done his homework, often visiting zoos on multiple occasions and patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity to gather a series of brilliant photos. There is an incredible attention to detail in terms of recapping all of the exhibits at each facility and the extensive reviews are an absolute joy to read. However, the true delights are the almost 300 photos that include shots of a warthog amongst spring flowers; sparring elephants kicking up dust; sped-up images of everything from giant anteaters to bontebok; and an equal division of photos between ungulates, carnivores, primates, reptiles, amphibians and birds. The entire spectrum of the animal kingdom is on display in bright, colourful photos that are nothing short of fantastic. Zoos of the Southwest is an easy book to praise because it is an exemplary work of art that will appeal to zoo aficionados across the globe. Whether it is the immaculately written reviews or the breathtaking photos the book is clearly one that deserves to be on the bookshelf of every fan of zoological gardens.

    Here is the link to ordering the book:

    http://www.hoodfineart.com/zoobook.html
     
  2. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    An excellent review that has prompted me to place my order - now I'm looking forward to the book!

    For customers in the UK, the price works out at about £28 - not inexpensive, but only slightly more than four copies of the London Zoo guidebook.
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you Snowleopard for a glowing (perhaps too glowing) review and thank you Sooty Mangabey for my first order from across the pond!

    When he says the reviews are meticulous, that is to the average person, not necessarily to the hardcore ZooChatter. I have seen a couple reviews on this forum that are more in depth than the chapters of my book (in that they list every single animal present, whereas I list most but not necessarily all).

    The layout of the book, in case you are wondering, is left page text, right page photos. The photo pages have sometimes one full spread photo, but usually either three or four photos. (There are three standard composite layouts that I created and replicated throughout the book).
     
  4. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Here is a sample photo spread, from the chapter on Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Notice I refrained from the temptation to post a cat photo or a motion blur photo! :p
     

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  5. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Here is another sample photo spread, from the chapter on Gladys Porter Zoo.
     

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  6. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    Got mine in the mail today. It's an outstanding reference and guide. Good work. Beautiful photos. Great job!!
     
  7. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    You are too kind!
     
  8. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    As I type this, a very small box of books (just a few) is somewhere in transit between sunny Arizona and not-so-sunny England. The recipient is one Tim Brown, from whom UK ZooChatters can purchase a copy. Send him a PM for information.