A few years ago, Ben and his wife, Katherine, sold their small flat in Primrose Hill and moved to France to pursue their dream of restoring an old barn near Nimes.That dream then became much, much bigger, as they moved with their two young children, Ben’s 76 year-old mother and his brother, into a run-down zoo on the edge of Dartmoor which they had bought, and found themselves responsible for 200 animals including four huge tigers, lions, pumas, three massive bears, a tapir and a wolf pack.
Ben’s new 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 who is also a would-be ninja, and has devised a long term escape plan and implemented it. But tragedy was to strike for, in the midst of dealing with escaping wolves and jaguars, and troublesome adolescent vervet monkeys, Katherine, who had developed, and had removed, a brain tumour while in France, began to experience symptoms again. The prognosis was poor, and so Ben found himself juggling the complexities of managing the zoo and getting it ready for re-opening, and at the same time having to care for his rapidly deteriorating wife, their two young children, and their ever growing menagerie of animals.
Ben’s story will both move and entertain - charting, simultaneously, the family’s attempts to improve the animals’ lives, the build-up to the Zoo’s official reopening, as well as Katherine’s decline, her final days, and how the family went on. Film release in Australia Boxing Day 2011.
About The Author
A former bricklayer and decorator, Benjamin then began to study and write about animal intelligence, studying psychology at UCL and then completing an MSc in Science Journalism at Imperial College. Benjamin became a contributing editor to Men's Health magazine and a Guardian columnist, and then moved to Southern France, and began writing a book on the Evolution of Humour in Man and Animals. Then the zoo came up for sale, and everything changed.
Publishers Weekly (07/14/2008):
Between his wife Katherine's diagnosis of glioblastoma and her quiet death less than three years later, Mee ("The Call of DIY"), his siblings and his mother bought a bedraggled zoo, complete with decaying buildings, a ragtag group of animals, an eclectic staff and a reputation that had been quickly going to the wolves. In this occasionally charming (to his children: Quiet. Daddy's trying to buy a zoo) but overly wordy book, Mee writes about caring for his dying wife and their two young children, dealing with Code Red emergencies (when a dangerous animal escapes its confines), hiring staff, learning about his new two- and four-footed charges and setting his sights on refurbishing his zoo into a sanctuary for breeding and raising endangered animals. Mee tends to meander with too-long explanations for one-sentence points, and the awe he feels about each individual animal is repetitive. Coupled with Britishisms that are never explained and a curious lack of varied wild animal stories, this book that was obviously meant to make animal lovers roar with pleasure will only make them whine with frustration. "(Sept.)" Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal (09/01/2008):
Following the death of his father, Mee took on the challenge of helping his 76-year-old mother find a new home. This relatively simple task resulted in life-altering, unexpected outcomes, not the least of which was taking on the responsibility of owning and renovating a dilapidated zoo in rural England. Mee has a strong interest in animal behavior and was trained as a science journalist, which influenced his decision to move his family to a run down 30-acre zoo complete with animals. Readers will delight in his anecdotes, most notably about escapees Sovereign the jaguar and Parker the wolf, who attracted a fair share of media attention and antizoo feeling from the public. While the Mee family dream was coming to fruition, Mee's wife, Katherine, suffered from the return of a brain tumor and died before the zoo was restored and reopened. The author's touching description of this tragedy stands in contrast to his otherwise conversational tone and the humorous events depicted in the book. The Dartmoor Zoological Park now attracts thousands of visitors annually. This engaging adventure will appeal to animal lovers and is recommended for public libraries.Edell M. Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
When writer Mees father died, his mother needed to sell the house and move to a smaller placeso the entire family decided to buy a zoo. Mees sister had seen an advertisement for the sale of the Dartmoor Wildlife Park, a small zoo in Devonshire in the southwest of England. After a long series of negotiations, licensing snafus, and the inevitable family conflicts, the author, his mother, and his brother moved into the parks rundown house and started running a zoo. Though they owned the grounds and its 200 animals outright, they still had to pay20 staff members, feed the animals, and upgrade the grounds. During the first week, a jaguar escaped, and the author and his brother began to realize what theyd gotten themselves into. Through eradicating the plague of rats, clearing out years of rubbish to reveal usable buildings, and battling with banks for operating expenses, the author and his staff gradually pulled the zoo back from the brink of closure.The emotional appeal of the zoos rescue is wonderfully limned in Mees practical, good-humored prose.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2008, American Library Association.)
DAILY MAIL "Mee writes most 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." THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH "We Bought a Zoo by Mee is a genuinely heartwarming true story of triumph over devastating events." SHORTLIST "An engaging tale from someone who dared to do something different." THE WESTERN DAILY PRESS "One of the most inspiring books I've read." INTERNATIONAL ZOO NEWS "Hard to put down." ABERDEEN PRESS & JOURNAL **** "Most people who spotted the advert appealing for new owners for an ailing zoo would not even have considered the possibility. Much more likely, they would have dismissed the idea out of hand. But one adventurous family saw a challenge and were prepared to meet it head on."
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 1st March 2012
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.2 x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.265