Zamba : The Greatest Lion That Ever Lived

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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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 154.9 x 233.7 x 25.4mm | 521.64g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • HarperCollins
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 0060761326
  • 9780060761325

Review Text

An object lesson in living peacefully with animals, even a lion. Fifty years ago, Helfer (Modoc, 1997) was a revolutionary: a trainer who relied on trust and respect, not the standard fear training. He developed a positive relationship with his animal companions through what he calls "affection training," encouraging in his charges the patience and understanding to deal with humans. Helfer got a chance to test his theory when some friends brought an orphaned African lion cub named Zamba to his Santa Monica ranch. His fellow trainers called him a fool. The lion would turn on him, they warned, as soon as he was old enough to consider Helfer dinner rather than benefactor. It never happened. Helfer and Zamba went on to become motion picture and television legends. During their 18 years together, they had many adventures, from designing a bed big enough for the two of them (the lion was a bed hog) to a bit of dentistry, which quickly reminded Helfer that Zamba was still an animal, more than willing to remove a finger if it got in his mouth while an abscess was being extricated. A 1960 shoot in Africa for a movie called The Lion commands the second half of the text. The days were long enough to make Zamba cranky, and there were snakes in the garden as well. At one point, Zamba was kidnapped, only to be abandoned when the kidnappers realized their charge wasn't exactly docile. With so much attention lavished on this extraordinary lion, it comes as a shock to learn that Helfer's farm is home to more than 1,500 animals, all of which get the same kind of care as Zamba. The last pages describe a horrific flood at the ranch that could have erased all of Helfer's good works. Beautifully expresses a simple philosophy so many have trouble following: respect for all living creatures, given and returned. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

1,056 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 51% (539)
4 29% (308)
3 16% (166)
2 3% (35)
1 1% (8)
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