We Bought A Zoo: The Amazing True Story Of A Young Family, A Broken Down Zoo, And The 200 Wild Animals That Change T by Benjamin MeeWe Bought A Zoo: The Amazing True Story Of A Young Family, A Broken Down Zoo, And The 200 Wild Animals That Change T by Benjamin Mee

We Bought A Zoo: The Amazing True Story Of A Young Family, A Broken Down Zoo, And The 200 Wild…

byBenjamin Mee

Paperback | November 15, 2011

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The remarkable true story of a family who move into a rundown zoo– already a BBC documentary miniseries and excerpted in The Guardian.

In the market for a house and an adventure, Benjamin Mee moved his family to an unlikely new home: a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside. Mee had a dream to refurbish the zoo and run it as a family business. His friends and colleagues thought he was crazy.

But in 2006, Mee and his wife with their two children, his brother, and his 76-year-old mother moved into the Dartmoor Wildlife Park. Their extended family now included: Solomon, an African lion and scourge of the local golf course; Zak, the rickety Alpha wolf, a broadly benevolent dictator clinging to power; Ronnie, a Brazilian tapir, easily capable of killing a man, but hopelessly soppy; and Sovereign, a jaguar and would-be ninja, who has devised a long term escape plan and implemented it.

Nothing was easy, given the family’s lack of experience as zookeepers, and what follows is a magical exploration of the mysteries of the animal kingdom, the power of family, and the triumph of hope over tragedy. We Bought a Zoo is a profoundly moving portrait of an unforgettable family living in the most extraordinary circumstances.

From the Hardcover edition.
A former newspaper columnist, Benjamin Mee has spent the last ten years studying animal behaviour.From the Hardcover edition.
Title:We Bought A Zoo: The Amazing True Story Of A Young Family, A Broken Down Zoo, And The 200 Wild…Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.19 × 5.46 × 0.76 inPublished:November 15, 2011Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385666225

ISBN - 13:9780385666220


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! This was an amazing book. I was looking forward to reading it, and it definitely exceeded my expectations! You won't want to put it down!
Date published: 2018-07-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It Was Good & Different Having watched the movie before reading the book, I was surprised to see how different they were; but of course they're different, they're two different forms of entertainment. If you liked the movie, and want to know more about the zoo, I would recommend this book. But remember, although they both share the same concept, they two forms of entertainment are very different.
Date published: 2018-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not just a story about buying a zoo "We bought a zoo" isn't just a story about buying a zoo. The section about Mee losing his wife was unexpected and quite good. However, most of the book is about buying a zoo and getting it ready to re-open after years of neglect. And, there were animal stories scattered throughout. Definitley, a fun read.
Date published: 2011-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous The Good Stuff Heartwarming and hilarious and honest I am in total awe of this man and his family and what they accomplished against all odds, truly inspiring It's about family and zoo animals -- what's not to like There are Otters - OK only 1 paragraph (Pg 74), but anyone who mentions otters is cool with me Talks about Gay Animals -- yup its true (take that homophobes) Liked authors writing style Interesting to hear about the inner workings and challenges of running a zoo Author is just extremely likable and you really feel his love for his wife Learned so much Now REALLY want to see the movie The Not So Good Stuff Have a sudden urge to go see this zoo -- people I do not have the time and money to do this (hell at least I have a Zoo membership) It made me cry (not a bad thing, but I sick, crying makes my body feel even crappier) Favorite Quotes/Passages "I was the mad Englishman they were the slightly bemused French country folk - tolerant, kind, courteous, and yet, inevitably, hugely judgmental." "I am reasonably convinced he had high-functioning Asperger's syndrome. For the first, and last, time in our conversation, he looked me in the eye and smiled, as if to say, "So you like Tumors too?" and excitedly introduced me to his team." (While his wife was being taken in for surgery) "The vet arrived with the necessary sedatives, on on the third attempt Sovereign was successfully darted, although unfortunately, it appeared, in the tip of his sheath, and he jumped around angrily until he began to slow down, scowling and prowling, glaring at us through the wire. You got the impression he was memorizing faces, so that if he got out again he'd know whom to punish for this indignity." "... I had always wanted to dedicate to free-ranging monkeys, and to my father, Ben Harry Mee, who had provided the funds for the park --albeit unwittingly and posthumously, and absolutely certainly (had he been alive) unwillingly." Who Should/Shouldn't Read Anyone and everyone 5 Dewey's I received this From Random House in Exchange for an Honest Review -- thanks guys I was home sick and you made me cry with this one
Date published: 2011-11-14

Read from the Book

PROLOGUE Mum and I arrived as the new owners Wildlife Park in Devon for the first time at around six o’clock on the evening of 20 October 2006, and stepped out of the car to the sound of wolves howling in the misty darkness. My brother Duncan had turned on every light in the house to welcome us, and each window beamed the message into the fog as he emerged from the front door to give me a bone-crushing bear hug. He was more gentle with Mum. We had been delayed for an extra day in Leicester with the lawyers, as some last-minute paperwork failed to arrive in time and had to be sent up the M1 on a motorbike. Duncan had masterminded the movement of all Mum’s furniture from Surrey in three vans, with eight men who had another job to go to the next day. The delay had meant a fraught standoff in the entryway to the park, with the previous owner’s lawyer eventually conceding that Duncan could unload the vans, but only into two rooms (one of them the fetid front kitchen) until the paperwork was completed. So the three of us picked our way in wonderment between teetering towers of boxes and into the flagstoned kitchen, which was relatively uncluttered and, we thought, could make a good center of operations. A huge old trestle table I had been hoarding in my parents’ garage for twenty years finally came into its own, and was erected in a room suited to its size. It’s still there as our dining-room table, but on this first night its symbolic value was immense. Some boxes and carpets Duncan had managed to store in the back pantry had just been flooded, so while he unblocked the drain outside I drove to a Chinese takeout I’d spotted on the way from Route A38, and we sat down to our first meal together in our new home. Our spirits were slightly shaky but elated, and we laughed a lot in this cold, dark, chaotic house on that first night, and took inordinate comfort from the fact that at least we lived near a good Chinese place. That night, with Mum safely in bed, Duncan and I stepped out into the misty park to try to get a grip on what we’d done. Everywhere the flashlight shone, eyes of different sizes blinked back at us, and without a clear idea of the layout of the park at this stage, the mystery of exactly what animals lurked behind them added greatly to the atmosphere. We knew where the tigers were, however, and made our way over to one of the enclosures that had been earmarked for replacement posts to get a close look at what sort of deterioration we were up against. With no tigers in sight, we climbed over the stand-off barrier and began peering by flashlight at the base of the structural wooden posts holding up the chain-link fence. We squatted down and became engrossed, prodding and scraping at the surface layers of rotted wood to find the harder core, in this instance reassuringly near the surface. We decided it wasn’t so bad, but as we stood up were startled to see that all three tigers in the enclosure were now only a couple of feet away from where we were standing, ready to spring, staring intently at us. Like we were dinner. It was fantastic. All three beasts — and they were such glorious beasts — had maneuvered to within pawing distance of us without either of us noticing. Each animal was bigger than both of us put together, yet they’d moved silently. If this had been the jungle or, more accurately in this case, the Siberian tundra, the first thing we'd have known about it would have been a large mouth around our necks. Tigers have special sensors along the front of their two-inch canines that can detect the pulse in your aorta. The first bite is to grab, then they take your pulse with their teeth, reposition them, and sink them in. As they held us in their icy glares, we were impressed. Eventually, one of these vast, muscular cats — acknowledging that due to circumstances beyond their control (i.e., the fence between us), this had been a mere dress rehearsal — yawned, flashed those curved dagger canines, and looked away. We remained impressed. We started back toward the house. The wolves began their eery night chorus, accompanied by the sounds of owls — there were about fifteen on site — the odd screech of an eagle, and the nocturnal danger call of the vervet monkeys as we walked past their cage. This was what it was all about, we felt. All we had to do now was work out what to do next.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“Fascinating…. Moving, funny and informative, [Mee’s] memoir is an amazing read.”— Winnipeg Sun“What a great story … definitely the stuff of dreams.”— London Free Press“Charming throughout and touching as well.”— New York Daily News“Mee writes movingly about his wife’s fatal illness, his children coming to terms with this, his sprightly old mum and, of course, his 200 wild animals in all their diverse glory.”— Daily Mail (UK)From the Hardcover edition.