Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
The early years of Annette Libeskind Berkovits’ life did not feature many encounters with animals and she did not grow up with pets. Although she was fascinated with zoology, living animals were an unknown. It wasn’t until she was hired to work with the educators at the Bronx Zoo that Annette developed a passion for animals. Confessions of an Accidental Zoo Curator documents Annette’s experiences with both people and animals during her career. It features amusing anecdotes as well as sharing her tribulations in expanding and advancing the techniques and programmes used to educate people on animals and the importance of conserving their natural habitats. Her revolutionary initiatives spread to zoos across the USA and were later adopted in Belize, China, and various other countries across the globe.
This memoir of Annette Libeskind Berkovits’ career at the Bronx Zoo is as entertaining as it is educational. Written in an engaging, informal style, it captured my attention immediately and I was surprised when I looked up and realised how late it was. Although somewhat reminiscent of Gerald Durrell’s books, Confessions of an Accidental Zoo Curator is distinguished by its focus on the educational programs in zoos and the challenges of teaching members of modern society the importance of conservation. The relevance and far-reaching results of her work were brought home to me when I realised that Annette pioneered the concept of the zoo camp, a program in place at my local zoo in South Africa. Confessions of an Accidental Zoo Curator is an outstanding book that will appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in animals and conservation.