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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Seven Years in Captivity

My Seven Years in Captivity: Tails and Misadventures in the San Diego Zoo
by Bill Seaton

Bill Seaton worked as THE Public Relations guy for the San Diego Zoo in the mid 1960s. In short, essay-like chapters he shares his experiences with the crazy creatures and even crazier keepers he came to know.

Never a big animal lover, Bill came to his job at the zoo with a lot to learn. Today, because of TV and the Internet, most of us know what komodo dragon, a kiwi bird, and a wombat look like. In the '60s it was a different story. Most people - including Bill - saw these strange and exotic creatures for the first time when the visited the zoo. Imagine how exciting that must have been!

This time period was an exciting one for the San Diego Zoo. They added the moving sidewalk and the SkyTram. Their endangered species breeding program (including a rare horse I first read about here) was getting international attention. Animal activists like Jane Goodall made appearances, along with other celebrities.

Sea World was the newest attraction and it was drawing crowds away from the Zoo. Bill's job as PR guy was to bring those guests back. One of his suggestions was to have an pretty, young "ambassador" who could represent the Zoo at parades, events, etc. This resulted in the Miss Zoofari program. Are you familiar with Jack Hanna and his animals? Well, before there was Jack Hanna there was Miss Zoofari Joan Embrey and HER animals!

Bill's writing style is very conversational, making this an fun, easy-to-read memoir. It would be fun to read all in one evening and just as enjoyable to read short chapter or two each day for a few weeks. For me it was a much needed break from more serious reading, a chance to have fun and simply enjoy a book.

For more about this book go to


Anonymous said...

What an interesting book! I hate to admit this, but I do remember Joan Embrey.

Kristin said...

That sounds like a fun book to read.

Florinda said...

I worked in administration at the Memphis Zoo for four years (1998-2002) - still my favorite job. The zoo world has changed a lot in the last thirty-odd years, and the San Diego Zoo has been one of the leaders in those changes. This sounds like a fascinating book - thanks for the enlightening review, Heather!

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