Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
THE ASTONISHING STORY OF ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST ANIMAL RESCUES.
When the Iraq war began, conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, caught in the crossfire at the heart of the city. Once Anthony entered Iraq he discovered that hostilities and uncontrolled looting had devastated the zoo and its animals. Working with members of the zoo staff and a few compassionate U.S. soldiers, he defended the zoo, bartered for food on war-torn streets, and scoured bombed palaces for desperately needed supplies. Babylon's Ark chronicles Anthony's hair-raising efforts to save a pride of Saddam's lions, close a deplorable black-market zoo, run ostriches through shoot-to-kill checkpoints, and rescue the dictator's personal herd of Thoroughbred Arabian horses.
A tale of the selfless courage and humanity of a few men and women living dangerously for all the right reasons, Babylon's Ark is an inspiring and uplifting true-life adventure of individuals on both sides working together for the sake of magni?cent wildlife caught in a war zone.
battle zone was adjacent to the leading collection of wild animals in the Middle East was irrelevant to them. The fedayeen had been particularly aggressive, and when he and the zoo’s director, Dr. Adel Salman Mousa, argued with the young gunmen, pleading for a little more time to feed and care for the animals, they were told they would be shot if they didn’t shut up. Before they left, Adel, Husham, and the rest of the staff frantically distributed the last of the food and filled the water
their wallets. They said it was their way of saying thanks for what we were doing for the animals. A bargain, they believed: only forty dollars a ewe. I didn’t have the heart to tell them they had been hugely ripped off. The going rate for a sheep was, even considering the ludicrously inflationary exchange rate, only about five dollars. Nevertheless, it was a tremendously generous gesture, and those sheep unwittingly played a significant role in upgrading security, because that night looters
was there was a cigarette lighter. Great. Perhaps I could singe his whiskers … . To my relief, he broke the stare and continued feasting. Fortunately, twenty-two lions (we counted!) will make short work of even a large impala buck. Soon all that was left was a chewed skeleton and the giant cats moved off. But it was too close for comfort, nevertheless. A golden rule in the bush is that even though they generally are unlikely to attack you without provocation, you don’t get too close to
going with us; she was going with the soldiers. They were her bodyguards, her life had been threatened, and they were going to “sort things out” at the zoo. We stared at her, stunned, but sure enough, standing behind Barbara was a contingent of fully armed soldiers, ready to leave. This had disaster flashing in neon lights all over it. “Barbara,” I said, “this is all completely unnecessary. There is no threat to anyone. William Sumner is a U.S. Army captain. He is there and he is in charge of
by a U.S. Army general, Dr. al-Assam, and a retinue of senior American and Iraqi officials surrounded by soldiers and bodyguards. Only a few dozen Baghdad residents were there, but we expected that. In a city that was still lawless, a stroll in the park was difficult to contemplate. But that was the significance of it all. If they wished, the people of Baghdad were now able to take a stroll in the park. All of those who came said they liked what they saw. For the authorities, both the coalition