Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

What’s New? The Zoo! A Zippy history of Zoos

What’s New? The Zoo! A Zippy history of Zoos

Kathleen Krull
Illustrator:  Marcellus Hall 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 10
Scholastic, 2014   ISBN: 978-0545135719

You may think that zoos are a relatively new thing, but this is not the case. Zoos have been popular for thousands of years. Thanks to clay tablets that have been found, we know that 4,400  years ago the King of Ur, who ruled over a part of what is now Iraq, had at least a lion in a zoo. Another ruler, Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt also loved to own exotic animals because she thought they made her “appear even mightier.” In China, Emperor Wen-Wang had a huge zoo. He thought that owning animals made a person smarter and therefore he called his zoo “The Garden of Intelligence.”

  2,400 years ago in Greece, a young man called Aristotle, who would one day be a famous philosopher, studied a wide variety of animals. In facts he studied so many that he ended up writing a book about animals called The History of Animals, which was the first book of its kind.

   Let us now jump forward in time a little to 1735. A Swedish scientist called Carl Linnaeus set about classifying animals into groups. His book, System in Nature, gave the scientists around the world something to think about, which led to a new “branch of science” being created – zoology.

  In 1827 an Egyptian ruler sent King Charles X of France a gift. The gift was a giraffe and she had to walk from Marseille to her new zoo home. The giraffe was accompanied by three cows who provided her with milk, and she was such a sensation that she even inspired someone to create a new hairdo, which was called a la Girafe.

   Anyone who has oohed and aahed at a zoo will be intrigued by the true zoo stories that appear in this book. Readers will come to appreciate why zoos came into being, and how zoos moved away from being places where people could show off what they had, to being places where visitors could be educated about animals and about the need to conserve animal species in the wild.

   Throughout the book the engaging and wonderfully written text is paired with colorful and expressive illustrations.