BOOKS: New wildlife titles

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1994:

The Zoo Book, by Allen W. Nyhuis. Carousel
Press (POB 6061, Albany, CA 94706-0061), 1994. 288
pages, 79 photos. $14.95 paperback.
Exhaustive but not definitive, The Zoo Book will give
zoogoers a general idea of what to expect at approximately 100
institutions, including 53 major U.S. zoos plus many aquariums,
foreign zoos, and other venues for observing captive wildlife.
Assessing each zoo from a tourist’s perspective, The Zoo Book
unfortunately gives good ratings to some whose animal holding
conditions and programs for the benefit of wildlife are poor to
mediocre. It also overlooks most small zoos. This justly penal-
izes the notorious roadside zoos, but may also tend to steer visi-
tors away from some outstanding small zoos, such as the
revamped collection at Watertown, New York, where a few

years ago the administration realized that keeping a few native
species in exemplary naturalistic exhibits can be far more attrac-
tive and educational than keeping a lot of exotic species in a
depressing concrete and steel prison.
These faults aside, The Zoo Book offers an impressive
amount of information. A solid start to what should become an
often updated series, it could be most improved not by making
it thicker, but rather by turning each of the major regional sub-
headings into a separate as well as more complete
volume––which would enhance sales, because a lot of people
who won’t pay the cover price for capsule descriptions of zoos
that are beyond driving range would nonetheless pay half that
much for a guide to all of their local captive wildlife viewing
Wildlife Survivors: the flora and fauna of
tomorrow, by John R. Quinn. TAB Books (Blue
Ridge Summit, PA 17294-0850). 208 pages. $12.95,
Whatever naturalist John R. Quinn did to incite sabo-
tage by book designers Jaclyn J. Boone and Brian Allison, it
wasn’t half what they deserve for rendering almost unreadable
one of the most thorough looks yet at the natural history of the
many species which thrive in the presence of human beings.
The sans serif typeface, intended for limited use in eye-stopping
advertisements, inhibits fluid reading when slapped down in
dense blocks across pages so wide they should have been split
into two columns. This is doubly unfortunate, because besides
presenting information on familiar birds and mammals, Quinn
covers plants, fish, reptiles and amphibians, along with discus-
sion of their interdependency in the urban ecology. The factual
data on each individual species is readily available from other
field guides, but the context is not. The most distinctive and
valuable aspect of Wildlife Survivors is Quinn’s review of just
why the species he describes survive, while others go extinct.
Fishwatching: Your Complete Guide to the
Underwater World, by John Quinn. The
Countryman Press (POB 175, Woodstock, VT 05091).
232 pages. $18.00, paperback.
Fishwatching “had its genesis,” author John Quinn
writes, “on a wind-and-wave-swept fishing jetty in Deal,
New Jersey, in a conversation I had with my own con-
science following an especially exciting landing of a striped
bass. Until that day I had been an enthusiastic sport angler
and spearfisherman, and although I do not now condemn
these activities out of hand…I have come to value less dis-
ruptive ways of interacting with the underwater world.”
Reaching an epiphany more often described by former
hunters, Quinn has responded not with a tome on why fish
have feelings or should have rights, but rather an extremely
rich compilation of a life’s learning about fish and their habi-
tat. Fishwatching may actually be the most comprehensive
book about fish yet written for a nonacademic adult audience
that does not focus upon ways to kill them. Much of it
focuses upon Quinn’s own underwater observations. On the
way down he adds a quick course on the basics of scuba div-
ing. The technological obstacles are such that fishwatching
will probably never become a bigger business than either
birdwatching or fishing, but certainly if more people appre-
ciated fish, we’d have a healthier and more biologically
diverse environment.
Living With Wildlife: How to Enjoy, Cope
with, and Protect North America’s Wild
Creatures Around Your Home and Theirs,
by the California Center for Wildlife with
Diana Landau and Shelley Stump. Sierra Club
Books (100 Bush St., 13th floor, San Francisco, CA
94104). 352 pages. $15.00 paperback.
Living With Wildlife probably won’t supersede
Guy Hodge’s 1990 Pocket Guide to The Humane Control of
Wildlife in Cities & Towns as the wildlife book that animal
control officers use most: it doesn’t fit easily into a pocket
or glove compartment, it gains much bulk from tips on
wildlife-watching and natural history that aren’t necessarily
pertinent to nuisance wildlife control, it costs about three
times as much as the Hodge book, and it appears from the
Sierra Club, which has no history of involvement with ani-
mal control, while the Hodge book was published by his
employer, the Humane Society of the U.S.
However, if you have room on your shelf for two
such guides, Living With Wildlife is a good consulting refer-
ence, and it may help with many situations that the Hodge
book does not address. Moreover, it covers a wealth of
species that Hodge neglected. Maybe you’ve never had an
animal control emergency involving a sea turtle before, nor
even one involving a domestic pig. When you do, though,
you’ll need to borrow expertise in a hurry, and chances are
it will be at a bad hour for calling someone. For less than
your agency would pay for an hour of holiday overtime,
Living With Wildlife could easily save its own price the first
time you use it.
––Merritt Clifton
Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.