Book Review: The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue

The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion RescueMillions of animals around the world are held in captivity in conditions that are not ideal. One such pair of animals have their story told in The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue by Sara Starbuck.

The title lioness and lion live in two completely different worlds but are united in the fact that they both need to escape to better lives. Bella was blind, sickly, and brokenhearted at the loss of her family in the Romanian zoo in which she lived. Simba lived in a cramped backyard in France, after living his early years traveling in a circus trailer. The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue recalls the tale of the rescue and rehabilitation of these two majestic animals with the help of the Born Free Foundation.

In the book, Starbuck weaves the stories of Bella and Simba in alternating chapters to keep the reader captivated. Each chapter focuses on a part of the lions’ rescue and is written in a friendly, easy-to-read way. The text is accompanied by vivid, full-color photographs of the animals and rescue volunteers.

Interspersed throughout the book are fascinating facts about lions — everything from how their claws grow to why they have a tassel on their tail. In this way, readers learn not only about the plight of Bella and Simba but about lions in general.

The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue is a great read for anyone who loves animals, rescue stories, and happy endings. It is fit for young readers both in content and in ease of reading.

The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue is published by Hachette Children’s Books. It is part of a series of non-fiction books featuring the rescue operations of the Born Free charity.

Learn more at Hachette Children’s Books.

Book Review – Elephant Reflections

Elephant ReflectionsElephant Reflections, a beautiful book released by the University of California Press this past May, features gorgeous photography that transcends conventional nature photography. Providing a window into the intimate lives of elephants, the photos would be at home in an art gallery.

Captured by Karl Ammann, the photographs are categorized into themes such as “Colors,” “Textures,” and “Portraits.” The images beg to be scoured over, luring the reader to examine every detail.

The photos are accompanied by an eloquently-written text by Dale Peterson. Peterson’s text informs the reader about many of the captivating behaviors and societal norms of elephants. For example, elephants are thought to use infrasound for long-distance communication. The sounds are too low for humans to hear, but elephants can sense the vibrations from miles away using their large ears and the soles of their feet.

Children will be drawn to the large format photos, while parents and teachers will find the text enhances their appreciation of the images.

Purchase Elephant Reflections at

You can also learn about elephants here at Animal Fact Guide. Check out our article: African Elephant.

Book Review – In the Womb: Animals

In the Womb: Animals (cover)National Geographic has recently released a very interesting book for animal lovers. In the Womb: Animals by Michael Sims, explores the fascinating development from conception to birth of a golden retriever, a bottlenose dolphin, and an Asian elephant.

Beautifully illustrated with ultrasound images of these animals as embryos and fetuses, the book highlights the development of unique physical characteristics that the animals will come to rely on once out of womb.

For example, one section showcases the elephant fetus after four months. At this point, the trunk is recognizable, but it will need the full 18 more months in the womb to continue developing. Once out of the womb, the elephant will use this strong, highly dexterous snout to pick foliage, carry objects, suck water, and use as a snorkel while swimming.

The author also touches upon physical characteristics that provide clues about the animals’ ancestry.  For example, at 3-4 weeks, the dolphin fetus develops hind limbs which later retract and disappear. This suggests that dolphins may have evolved from four-legged land animals.

Intertwined with the three main stories are captivating glimpses into the development and behavior of red kangaroos, emperor penguins, sand tiger and lemon sharks, and parasitic wasps. These mini stories reveal the extraordinary journeys these animals make before they’re even born, as well as provide interesting points of comparison to the three main characters.

It is a fascinating read for animal lovers, but parents should note that reproductive behavior is covered in detail.

Dog fetus from In the Womb: Animals

Dolphin fetus from In the Womb: Animals

Elephant fetus from In the Womb: Animals

The book, In the Womb: Animals, is available at

You may also be interested in purchasing the documentary DVD, In the Womb: Animals.