Wild World Book Day recommendations

Want to go wild and shake up your reading list this World Book Day? We’ve got you covered!

We’ve asked our team to share some of their favourite books about animals and the natural world. Which one will you read first? 

The Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard

“The Snow Leopard is a 1978 book by Peter Matthiessen. It’s an account of his two-month search for the snow leopard with naturalist George Schaller in the Dolpo region on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalaya.

This becomes a spiritual journey alongside a zoological one, as Matthiessen frequently breaks off to talk about his wife who had died of cancer before to the adventure. Aside from the search for elusive animal, the book also covers death, suffering, loss, memory and healing.”

Tom Fielding, Keeper

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Place Names in Cornwall and Scilly

“Did you know more than 80% of the place names in Cornwall are based on old Cornish or Celtic words? These names reflect the shape and colour of our Cornish landscape, and the rocks, trees, animals, fields or long-vanished families that once lived there. Even the name of our location  Trenance Gardens  reveals its former animal life, as ‘tre’ means ‘farm ‘and ‘nance’ or ‘nans’ means ‘in the valley’.

Newquay Zoo is committed to conserving the biodiversity of habitats, plants and animals whether in the West Country or overseas. To me, knowing and celebrating the distinctiveness of the local names of places and animals is a precious part of that.”

Mark Norris, Education Officer


Bats: An illustrated guide to all species

“This book is great for anyone interested in learning in detail about the 1,300+ species of bat known today. This book goes into detail about the diversity of different species around the world and illustrates the world of bats to reveal their true nature as intelligent, social and deeply misunderstood creatures. For example, the book explains that bats are key species in pollinating world forests. The best part about this book for me is the amazing photographs by famed nature photographer Merlin D Tuttle pictured with each description.

I could read and flick through this batty book forever!”

Shannon Lindsay, Catering Assistant

The Worst Journey in the World

The Worst Journey in the World

“This is the story of Scott’s last expedition to the South Pole, where the naturalists on the team try to attempt the first ever mid-winter trek in Antarctica to go to an Emperor penguin colony and collect some eggs. The purpose of this was to prove that birds evolved from reptiles. What followed, was one of the most arduous of treks in truly unbelievable conditions. A long read, but it was this book that sparked my obsession with Antarctica.

Spoiler alert: at the end of the book it describes how they found the bodies of Captain Scott and his team.”

Mike Downman, Team Leader of Birds

Adrift The Curious Tale of the Lego Lost at Sea

Adrift: The Curious Tale of the Lego Lost at Sea

“In 1997, 62 containers fell from a cargo ship off the coast of Cornwall, including one filled with nearly 5 million pieces of Lego, much of it sea themed. The pieces  including octopuses, sea grass, spear guns, life rafts, scuba tanks, cutlasses, flippers and dragons are still washing up today. 

The most interesting thing I’ve found is a small green Monopoly house. I’m yet to find the rare green dragon, or any Lego at all, but I’ve found lots of items in the search, from beautiful pieces of pottery to disposable razors and piles of plastic bottle tops.”

Josie Swindhall, Customer Growth Assistant

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Animal Farm

“Animal Farm is a satirical allegorical novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. The book tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy.

Despite the title and the premise, this has absolutely nothing to do with animals, but as a socialist myself, this book really speaks to me.”

Tom Fielding, Keeper

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony Audio Book Listen Online

The Elephant Whisperer

“This is a compelling and heart-warming memoir of the South African conservationist Laurence Anthony and his adoption of a herd of elephants onto his ranch at Thula Thula National park. These elephants would have otherwise been killed because of their aggression and notorious talent of escaping, a talent which they brought with them to Thula Thula.

Over time, Anthony learns about the personalities in the herd and forms an inexplicable bond with the elephants, and spends much of his life with them. This book is captivating, emotive and makes you feel like you are living alongside Anthony through this incredible experience.”

Lucy Malpas, Research Student

A Fish Caught in Time

A Fish Caught in Time

“A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for Coelacanth is a gripping story of obsession, adventure and the search for our oldest surviving ancestor – a 400-million-years-old four-limbed dinofish!”

This book chronicles the 1938 discovery of a creature believed to be the first fish to crawl from the sea and evolve into reptiles, mammals and eventually mankind. Thought to have been wiped out along with the dinosaurs, this discovery was immediately called the greatest scientific find of the century.”

Mike Downman and Tom Fielding, keepers

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Buddy’s Rainforest Rescue and Duffy’s Lucky Escape

Reading these beautifully illustrated books by Ellie Jackson of Wild Tribe Heroes is a great way to talk to children about animals, the things that affect them, and how we are all connected.

We’ll be running two online events today where Ellie Jackson will be reading both stories live from enclosures at our sister zoo Paignton Zoo.You can watch live on Teams at the following times:

9:45am Plastic Oceans: a reading of Ellie Jackson’s Duffy’s Lucky Escape combined with a demonstration of the problems of plastic rubbish in our oceans, live from Paignton Zoo’s Crocodile Swamp exhibit.

2:00pm Palm Oil Problems: a reading of Ellie Jackson’s Buddy’s Rainforest Rescue combined with a short talk about the problem of palm oil, and how we can help, live from Paignton Zoo’s orangutan island exhibit.