Title: Fur, Fins and Feathers: The Invention of the Modern Zoo
Author: Cassandre Maxwell
Major Themes: Animals, Zoos
Synopsis: One man who loved animals made huge changes in the way animals were housed in zoos.
Sometimes you come across the most interesting books at random times. A few days ago, I was reading a couple of books about the Pilgrims to my children for our history lesson, from a website I subscribe to that contains many picture books. I happened to notice Fur, Fins and Feathers and the subtitle, Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo caught my eye. So, we had a brief historical/science lesson and read this picture book, as well!
I had never given much thought to how today’s zoos came into being. I’ve always enjoyed them; it’s quite interesting to see the animals in a nice enclosure with room for them to move around and things for them to do. But did you know that only 150 years ago, or less, zoos kept their animals in cages with not much of anything to occupy themselves with? Young Abraham Bartlett loved animals, and was very happy when he had the chance to play with the young ones in a friend’s collection.
As Abraham grew up, he looked for a job involving animals. After a period of time working in the Natural History Museum, he finally found his dreams coming true—he had a job at the London Zoological Society! During the next several years, he found many ways to improve the lives of the animals under his care. Not only did he revolutionize the way animals were exhibited, he was also the first to post informational signs about the animals.
Children who love animals will enjoy this true story. The pictures are wonderful, appearing almost 3-dimensional, and the story is engaging.
Read Aloud—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9