Synopses & Reviews
One day, Ralph Helfer
, a celebrated animal behaviorist, received a surprising phone call. His close friends had found a young lion near death by the Zambezi River in Zambia and had rescued him and brought him back to the States. Ralph had often spoken of wanting to raise a lion from a young age -- he had been developing a philosophy of training animals based on love instead of fear, which he termed "affection training." Weeks later, Zamba, then a two-month-old cub, arrived. As Helfer peeked into Zamba's box, he saw a small lion cub tilt his head, wait a single beat, then amble right into his arms. Hugging Helfer's neck with his soft paws, Zamba collapsed on his chest, got comfortable, and fell asleep, their faces touching. They didn't move for the next two hours. Zamba was home.
For the next eighteen years, Zamba would appear in many motion pictures, on television, and in the pages of magazines. Along with Helfer's other famous animal actors -- including Modoc the circus elephant and Gentle Ben the bear -- Zamba proved Helfer's theories resoundingly correct, and affection training revolutionized the way animals are trained and treated in the motion picture industry. Through both happy and tough times the bond between Helfer and Zamba developed into the most important of their lives, and Zamba is now enshrined in Helfer's heart and the memories of moviegoers everywhere as the greatest lion that ever lived. With stories that range from the hilarious to the incredibly sad and poignant, Zamba will give any Lion King fan a new hero and touch every animal lover's heart.
"Legendary Hollywood animal trainer and behaviorist Helfer captures an incredible story of love between man and lion that displays all the qualities that made his previous book, Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived, so moving. Here Helfer is involved with the subject, which adds emotional depth to a lifelong adventure. Starting with his somewhat brutal childhood on Chicago's South Side, the author deftly develops his story of the spiritual harmony he finds in nature and the violence he sees in the film industry's use of animals. His unique bond with a lion cub he names Zamba grows into a lifetime relationship that includes countless guest stints in movies and television shows, and leads to Helfer's development of a system of animal training 'based on love, not fear,' called 'affection training.' It 'has revolutionized the way animals are trained and treated in the motion picture industry.' The heart of the book is an account of Helfer's trip to Africa to assist Zamba with a starring role in The Lion, where the author's bond with his lion becomes a true spiritual connection that will touch the heart of any animal lover. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Richard Curtis. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Wonderful, detailed… amusing… Zamba is a charming read.” People
“A warmhearted tale of love between two species.” Booklist
“A fascinating book … humorous and touching.” School Library Journal
“Extraordinary ... Beautifully expresses a simple philosophy so many have trouble following: respect for all living creatures, given and returned.” Kirkus Reviews
“An incredible story of love between man and lion ... moving…. will touch the heart of any animal lover.” Publishers Weekly
From celebrated Hollywood animal trainer Helfer comes the personal story of his loving relationship with a lion that he brought into his home as a four-month-old cub. As the years passed, Helfer and Zamba developed a bond that become the most important in Helfer's life. 8-page b&w photo insert.
About the Author
Ralph Helfer is a well-known Hollywood animal behaviorist who was one of the first to use affection and kindness to train wild animals. He is a producer, director, and lecturer as well as the author of Mosey, The Beauty of the Beasts, and Modoc. He lives in Newport Beach and in Kenya, where he hosts safari tours.