11 Best Zoo Books for Adults and Kids Alike

Do you have a passion for animal conservation or simply love visiting the zoo? Have you ever wanted to learn more about the fascinating creatures that call zoos home or the important work that goes on behind the scenes? If so, you’re in luck – there’s a whole world of zoo books out there waiting to be explored! In this article, we’ll guide you through some of the best zoo books for children and adults alike, with options ranging from captivating novels to in-depth guides to animal care. So sit back, relax, and get ready to discover some new favorite reads!

11 Best Zoo Books for Adults and Kids Alike

Top Zoo Books for Children

If you’re looking to introduce your children to the wonders of the zoo, there are plenty of fantastic books available to get them started. From picture books to engaging chapter books, there’s something for every age and reading level.

Visiting the zoo can be a fun and educational experience for children of all ages. Not only do they get to see their favorite animals up close, but they can also learn about conservation efforts and the importance of protecting wildlife. Reading books about the zoo can enhance this experience and help children develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

Picture Books for Young Readers


For the youngest animal enthusiasts, picture books offer a fun and colorful way to learn more about their favorite creatures. Check out titles like “Animalphabet” by Julia Donaldson or “The Zoo” by Suzy Lee for engaging stories and beautiful illustrations that will capture their imagination.

Reading picture books with your child can also be a great bonding experience. You can point out different animals and talk about their unique characteristics, or discuss the importance of conservation and protecting wildlife habitats.

For slightly older readers, “Dear Zoo” by Rod Campbell is a classic choice that introduces children to a variety of animals and teaches them about the process of deciding which ones to bring to a zoo. And for a more educational focus, “National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals” by Catherine D. Hughes is a great resource for curious minds who want to learn more about the animals they see at the zoo.

Engaging Chapter Books for Older Kids

The One and Only Ivan: A Newbery Award Winner

If your child is a confident reader, they may enjoy some of the many engaging chapter books set in zoos. Titles like “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate or “Kizzy Ann Stamps” by Jeri Watts tackle big subjects like animal rights and racism through the eyes of a young protagonist. These books can spark important conversations with your child about social issues and the importance of empathy and compassion.

Or for a more lighthearted option, “The Great Zoo Escape” by Tohby Riddle follows a group of animals on a daring adventure outside of their enclosures. This book can be a fun way to encourage children to use their imaginations and think creatively.

Educational Books for Curious Minds

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue

Finally, for children who love learning about the natural world, there are plenty of educational books that dive deep into the fascinating science behind zoology and animal behavior. Check out titles like “Wild Animals” by Nicola Davies or “Zoo Scientists to the Rescue” by Patricia Newman for exciting real-world stories of scientists working to protect animals in the wild and in captivity.

These books can inspire children to pursue careers in fields like zoology or conservation, or simply encourage them to be more mindful of the impact humans have on the environment. Reading about the important work being done to protect endangered species can also give children a sense of hope and empowerment.

Must-Read Zoo Books for Adults

When we think of zoo books, we often think of children’s stories or picture books filled with cute and cuddly animals. However, zoo books aren’t just for kids! There are plenty of captivating reads aimed at grown-ups, too, whether you’re interested in the history of zoos, the ethics of animal captivity, or simply want to read a fascinating memoir.

Fascinating Zoo History and Stories

The Ark and Beyond: The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation (Convening Science: Discovery at the Marine Biological Laboratory)

If you’re interested in the rich history of zoos and their place in human culture, “The Ark and Beyond” by Ben A. Minteer or “Menagerie” by Caroline Grigson are excellent places to start. Both books explore the ways in which zoos have evolved over time and the different roles they’ve played in society. From their origins as menageries for the wealthy to their modern-day roles in conservation and education, these books offer a comprehensive look at the history of zoos.

If you’re more interested in individual animals and the stories of their lives, “The Elephant Whisperer” by Lawrence Anthony or “Saving Simon” by Jon Katz offer uplifting tales of humans forming deep bonds with animals in captivity. These heartwarming stories remind us that animals in zoos are not just specimens to be studied, but individuals with their own unique personalities and stories.

In-Depth Guides to Zookeeping and Animal Care

Zookeeping: An Introduction to the Science and Technology

If you’re an aspiring zookeeper or simply interested in the nitty-gritty of animal care, there are plenty of informative guides available. “Zookeeping” by Mark D. Irwin, John B. Stoner, and Paul C. Allen is a comprehensive overview of best practices in animal management and welfare. This book covers everything from enclosure design to nutrition to behavioral enrichment, making it an essential resource for anyone interested in working with animals in captivity.

For those interested in the unique challenges of treating exotic creatures, “Veterinary Care of African Wildlife” by Roy Bengis, Elizabeth H. Ellse, and Gregory R. Bock is an excellent resource. This book covers the medical and surgical management of a variety of African wildlife species, from lions and elephants to hyenas and antelopes.

For a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a zoo, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Elephants” by Jim and Jamie Dutcher chronicles the challenges and rewards of running a wolf conservation center in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. This book offers a unique perspective on the world of animal care and conservation, and is a must-read for anyone interested in the field.

Inspiring Memoirs from Zoo Professionals

Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey

Finally, for a more personal touch, there are plenty of memoirs and autobiographies out there from zoo professionals who have dedicated their lives to working with animals. Jane Goodall’s “Reason for Hope” is a classic that delves into her groundbreaking research with chimpanzees. This book offers a fascinating look at the world of primate behavior and is a must-read for anyone interested in animal behavior science.

For those interested in the world of horse training and rehabilitation, “The Man Who Listens to Horses” by Monty Roberts is an excellent choice. This memoir offers a glimpse into the mind of a master horse trainer, and is filled with insights into the psychology of these magnificent animals.

And for a look at the unique challenges of working with some of the zoo world’s most iconic animals, “The Last Rhinos” by Lawrence Anthony is a must-read. This book chronicles Anthony’s efforts to save the last remaining rhinos in war-torn Africa, and offers a gripping account of one man’s fight to protect these endangered creatures.

Books That Explore the Ethics of Zoos

But of course, not everyone agrees that zoos are a positive force. There are plenty of books out there that grapple with the ethical questions surrounding animal captivity, conservation, and the role of zoos in society.

The Debate Over Captive Animals

For a look at the arguments both for and against zoos, “The Modern Zoo” by Heather M. Moore and “What’s the Matter with Zoos?” by Dale Jamieson are both thought-provoking reads. Both authors argue that while there are certainly issues with the way many zoos are run, there is also potential for these institutions to play a valuable role in conservation and education.

The Role of Zoos in Conservation and Education

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

For a more positive take on the issue, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman examines the role of the Warsaw Zoo in sheltering Jewish refugees during World War II. Meanwhile, “Zoo Story” by Thomas French explores the intimate connections that develop between zoo animals and their caretakers, and the ways in which that relationship can impact both humans and animals alike.

Visions for the Future of Zoos

Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence

Finally, for anyone interested in imagining a more positive future for zoos and the animals they care for, “Rewilding Our Hearts” by Marc Bekoff offers a call to action for humans to reconnect with the natural world and advocate for the protection of endangered species. And “Rethinking Zoos” by Randy Malamud examines innovative new approaches to animal care and conservation that could pave the way for a more sustainable and ethical future for zoos.

Fictional Zoo Stories for All Ages

And finally, for a more imaginative take on the world of zoos, there are plenty of fictional stories out there that explore themes of animal conservation, empathy, and adventure.

Imaginative Children’s Tales Set in Zoos


For young readers, “Zoo” by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge is a thrilling adventure story about a group of young kids who uncover a sinister plot that threatens their beloved zoo. And “Zoo Break” by Gordon Korman is a fun and lighthearted tale of animals who team up to escape from the zoo and embark on a wild journey.

Captivating Novels for Adult Readers

Life of Pi: A Novel

For adult fiction readers, “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel is a haunting exploration of the human-animal relationship and the power of storytelling. Meanwhile, “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen follows a young veterinarian who joins a traveling circus in the 1930s and forms a bond with a mistreated elephant.

Zoo-Themed Graphic Novels and Comics

Beasts of Burden

And for fans of graphic novels and comics, “Beasts of Burden” by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson is a series of beautifully illustrated stories about a group of dogs and cats who work together to protect their town from supernatural threats. And “Fables” by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham features a range of animal characters – both from myths and from the real world – who find themselves living in a magical community in modern-day New York City.

The World of Zoo Books Awaits!

With so many amazing options out there, there’s never been a better time to dive into the world of zoo books. Whether you’re looking to educate yourself about animal welfare, get lost in a captivating fictional story, or inspire a love of nature in your children, there’s something for everyone in the pages of these fantastic reads. So go ahead and pick up one of these books today – we promise you won’t be disappointed!

YouTube video
Eddison Monroe
Latest posts by Eddison Monroe (see all)