cover image Saving the Baghdad Zoo: A True Story of Hope and Heroes

Saving the Baghdad Zoo: A True Story of Hope and Heroes

Kelly Milner Halls, William Sumner. HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $17.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-06-177202-3

This eye-opening tale of compassion and cooperation chronicles the mission of an international team of military personnel, zoo staffers, veterinarians, and relief workers to rescue neglected animals in Baghdad. Sumner, an army major who was deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a civil affairs officer, spearheaded the effort to round up the creatures from the heavily looted Baghdad Zoo, as well as a smaller nearby zoo and the abandoned palace of Saddam Hussein’s son. The animals all found new homes at the main zoo, which was extensively renovated and reopened to the public (“the opening was a sign of hope, a glimpse of normal life”). The collaborators detail several remarkable rescues, including the recovery of 16 rare purebred Arabian horses that had been stolen and hidden in a racetrack’s stables. Sidebars offering facts about various species, historical background, and Sumner’s emotional commentary supplement Halls’s (Dinosaur Parade ) narrative, which doesn’t sidestep the ever-present danger. Sobering and uplifting photographs—many taken by Sumner—underscore both the direness of the situation and the spirit of hope that drove the project. Ages 8–up. (Feb.)