Synopses & Reviews
An invitation into the magical, grueling, and virtually unknown world of exotic animal training.
Behind the imposing gate of the Exotic Animal Training Program at California's Moorpark College lies a kingdom full of small mysteries, deep passions, and a camel that shoots hoops. Each year a select group of students descends on this teaching zoo to learn an improbable talent: how to communicate with animals. The only school of its kind, Moorpark pushes the limits of all the enrolled as they master hundreds of Latin species names and zoonotic diseases, all while hosing down cages at dawn and noting that Zulu the mandrill takes his morning juice in a paper cup never plastic. The alumni of this elite program hold the most coveted positions at the world's finest zoos, aquariums, and sanctuaries. They are also the trainers who work in television and film, bringing Moorpark's enlightened methods to the business of animals for hire.
Author Amy Sutherland returns with the same impassioned voice that made her debut, Cookoff, such a delight. Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched is a fascinating look at a little-known profession for animal lovers everywhere.
"Graduates of the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at California's Moorpark College land jobs in prestigious zoos, animal sanctuaries and research facilities, and they can be found in high-profile positions in Hollywood studios, the U.S. Navy and the organization Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sutherland (Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America) chronicles the intriguing year she spent with students at this 'Harvard for exotic animal trainers,' accompanying the 'first years' as they interact with the exotic and not-so-exotic animals in the teaching zoo including baboons, cougars, servals, wolves, tortoises, snakes and rats. She attends classes in the rigorous academic program, goes to training sessions where the students learn to communicate with, rather than dominate, the animals, and discovers that the school is no place for anyone who thinks animals are cute: students may be attacked by emus, kicked by mule deer or backed into corners by camels. There is, however, much friction among the students, especially with the 'second years.' Sutherland observes that people who relate well to animals don't always relate well to other people, and this theme makes the book a fascinating study in human as well as animal behavior. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Journalist Sutherland spent a year observing this associate degree program, following the students through their grueling 16-hour days as they cleaned excrement from cages, prepared special diets, memorized species' Latin names, and trained rats." Library Journal
"Sutherland does not gloss over past mistakes as she explains in detail the demanding EATM course work and charts the program's evolution into an outstanding source for top exotic animal trainers." Booklist
"The sheer volume of reporting here is impressive....Sutherland writes that the students 'could be chomped, mauled, or even killed by an animal.'" San Francisco Chronicle
"Light and easy to read, Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched contains many entertaining stories about people and animals." New York Times
A rare and absolutely enchanting look inside the Harvard of wild animal wranglers
As is obvious to anyone who has read her most e-mailed New York Times article of 2006, ?What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage,? Amy Sutherland knows a thing or two about animals. In Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, she takes readers behind the gates of Moorpark Community College, where students are taught such skills as how to train a hyena to pirouette and coax a tiger to open wide for a vet exam. As she follows the faculty, student body, and four- footed teaching aides at Moorpark?s Exotic Animal Training and Management program, Sutherland produces a true walk on the wild side, filled with wonder, comedy, occasional heartache, and transcendent beauty.
About the Author
Amy Sutherland is the author of Cookoff and was a features reporter at the Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine, for seven years. Her articles have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, and Disney Magazine. She has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.