Thomas French, Journalist-Author

Thomas French–a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, formerly with The St. Petersburg Times, and the author, most recently, of “Zoo Story: Life In The Garden Of Captives”–discusses when and how, in the course of writing articles about Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for the newspaper, he decided he had the makings of a book.



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He recounts his feelings and experiences with zoos during childhood and adulthood, prior to writing about the Lowry Park Zoo; describes in some detail the management style, vision and other attributes of Lex Salisbury, the Zoo CEO, and the colorful (human) protagonist of French’s saga, dubbed “El Diablo Blanco” by his staff; addresses Lowry Park’s move–in concert with the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park–to bring elephants from Swaziland, a Salisbury gambit to help elevate the status & profile of the zoo, one that’s likely to remain a controversial strategy, noting that exhibiting elephants in zoos has become a very grey issue, and more.

COMEDY CORNER: Jim Gaffigan’s “Camping” (snippet) (

MUSIC: Hot Club of Cowtown’s “Wildcat,” Neko Case’s “Magpie To The Morning,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Simon & Garfunkel’s “At The Zoo”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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