Tuesday 11 June 2024

How to Move a Zoo


How to Move a Zoo: The Incredible True Story by Kate Simpson and Owen Swan (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781761180309

This picture book tells the true story of how, at the beginning of the 20th century Jessie the elephant walked from Moore Park Zoo to her spacious new home in the Taronga Zoological Park.

‘It was still dark when Mr Miller walked through the old zoo. A kookaburra laughed to tell him dawn was near, but otherwise all was quiet. The animals were gone. All except Jessie.’ Thus begins this story which goes on to tell how for months, a slow parade of trucks headed north carrying crates and cages of every size and shape. There was no vehicle big enough to transport Jessie, but after she’d walked from Moore Park to Fort Macquarie at Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, she was transported by ferry to Bradleys Head and into Taronga Zoo.

The illustrations in this book are muted with much use made of mauves and pinks. There is a double page spread showing the route Jessie and Mr Miller took from her old home to her new. It is interesting to see that numerous places are not only marked with their English name, but also with Aboriginal names, a practice which is becoming frequent. One wonders when the words ‘Sydney’ and ‘Australia’ will be replaced, too, by Aboriginal words.

This true story comes from the bestselling author of Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice Ross-King, and the highly acclaimed illustrator of Anzac Biscuits.

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