Tag Archives: wild animals

Masters of Their Universe

Masters of Their Universe: Business (and Life) Secrets Taught by Four-Legged Professors by Robert B. Haas (Itasca Books Distribution, $24.95, 208 pages)

Masters of Their Universe (nook book)

There’s no beating around the bush for author Robert B. Haas. His direct specific advice for success in business and life often includes the kill or be killed aspects of life in the African wilds. Graphic and detailed information about lions, leopards and wild dogs comes from Haas’ years as an outstanding photographer for National Geographic Magazine. The animal kingdom analogy is served up alongside its human business world counterpart.

There are 12 secrets revealed in Masters of Their Universe, each begins with a quote that captures the essence of the secret. Chapter eight – Clothes Make the Man, reminds the reader that appearance counts. A leopard’s spots are every bit as important as the shirt and tie worn by a banker. The book is primarily male-oriented; although, there are references to females, both four-legged and two-legged.

Haas has an undeniable track record of financial success. However, his ongoing references to decades of experience can be off-putting, even confusing. Perhaps a timetable of his careers could serve the reader in a way that makes the point?


Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.


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At the Zoo

Did Not Survive: A Zoo Mystery by Ann Littlewood (Poisoned Pen Press; $14.95; 250 pages)

This second novel from former zookeeper Ann Littlewood, pits human nature against the honesty of zoo animals for a compelling read.   A fictitious zoo in the Pacific Northwest provides the location for a unique spin on an age-old tale of a heroine in peril.   The main character is Iris Oakley who is not only a recently widowed zoo employee, but also pregnant with her deceased husband’s baby.

In this story there are actually two heroines in peril, Iris Oakley and an aged elephant named Damrey.   Damrey has been a favorite of local families who visit her at the zoo.   Author Littlewood makes a case for the depth of knowledge required of zoo personnel.   It’s not just sweeping up after the animals and making sure they have their favorite foods.   Behavior, instincts and training are well documented for a wide range of the zoo’s inhabitants.   There are births and deaths that tear at the hearts of the staff.

Littlewood opens the mystery with the death of the zoo superintendent, a fellow who was good at his job but not well liked.   He’s discovered in Damrey’s enclosure being menaced by the very agitated elephant.   Iris is the first on the scene and it falls to her to assist in determining who is responsible for the super’s death.

Along the way we get to know the elephants.   They have not been part of her job until the discovery of the body in their enclosure.   Her regular charges are the big cats; however, pregnant women must not empty cat pans, big or small.   Iris is a remarkable character who captured this reviewer’s sympathies.

Well recommended. Let’s hope Ms. Littlewood keeps writing about what she knows so well as she provides entertainment bundled with fascinating learning.

This review was written by Ruta Arellano.   A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Flying: A Review of Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien

“When I would look into his relaxed, at-peace-with-himself eyes, I felt like I was looking into something inscrutable, unobtainable, deeper than we can possibly imagine, an old soul that reflected someone bigger, ineffable, eternal.”

So writes Ms. O’Brien about Wesley, a baby barn owl with an injured wing that she adopted while living in southern California.   Wesley, an intelligent and wise “old soul” wound up living for all of 19 years, the equivalent of 120 human years.   Trained as a biologist specializing in wild animal behavior, the author thought she know a lot about wild animals but Wesley showed her she still had much to learn.

The reader learns that Wesley played like a kitten, had an impressive vocabulary, played in bath water (supposedly something that would never occur with a barn owl), attracted wild female barn owl admirers, and could tell time.   We further learn that Wesley, like a house cat or dog, could get mad at his owner and either bawl her out or literally turn his back on her.

The best parts of this true story are the happy beginning and the sad ending.   As O’Brien rightly notes:  “The… thing I hate about animal stories is that after you’ve read the entire book and you really care about the animal, they go and tell you all about how the animal died.”   This is so true here as the first 215 pages are easy to read, but the remainder is quite difficult for animal owners and lovers to get through.   O’Brien goes so far as to explain to us how, while she was suffering from a potentially fatal illness, her love for Wesley led her to repel her thoughts of suicide.

Yes this is, as advertised, “the remarkable love story of an owl and his girl.”   While it is not quite as strong as the greatly moving books A Cat Named Darwin by William Jordon or The Best Cat Ever by the late Cleveland Amory, it is top-rate.

The author has never fully stopped missing the charming barn owl known as Wesley.   When you finish this book you, the reader, will also greatly miss him…   But you will be quite glad to have shared in his amazing life, at least for a short while.

Free Press, paperback, 235 pages.   $15.00Wesley the owl

The book was purchased by the reviewer.

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