5 Elephants

88p. bibliog. glossary. index. photos. websites. Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554553167.
Gr 4–6—This heartfelt book provides an overview of elephants as well as an argument for why these creatures are ill suited to captivity. Laidlaw has a reputation for animal rights education, and here again he calls upon readers to become elephant guardians. Well-chosen photographs and well-written text emphasize the importance of this cause. Laidlaw provides information on elephants (their family structure, body parts, and place in the ecosystem) and discusses how humans have intruded, poaching them as well as taking them from the wild for entertainment purposes. His description of the illegal ivory trade is especially heartbreaking, touching upon confiscated stashes that were burned by governments trying to squash the lucrative business. Laidlaw is critical of zoos and circuses, explaining that elephants' physical and mental health cannot be maintained properly in captivity, resulting in nightmarish conditions. He provides poignant details of the lives and struggles of five individual elephants inhabiting different settings: the wild, a zoo, a circus, and a sanctuary. There's also an elephant that has returned to the wild after living in captivity. The book is nicely organized, including suggestions of actions to take and a list of elephant interest groups. A solid source for reports on endangered species and an ideal jumping-off point for those seeking a volunteer project.—Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

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