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Cubs in the Tub

The True Story of the Bronx Zoo's First Woman Zookeeper



Neal Porter Books

Holiday House Publishing

(pub. 8.4.2020) 48 pages

Author: Candace Fleming

Illustrator: Julie Downing

Character: Helen Martini

Overview: "Fred and Helen Martini longed for a baby, and they ended up with dozens of lion and tiger cubs! Snuggle up to this purr-fect read aloud about the Bronx Zoo's first female zoo-keeper.

When Bronx Zoo-keeper Fred brought home a lion cub, Helen Martini instantly embraced it. The cub's mother lost the instinct to care for him. 'Just do for him what you would do with a human baby,' Fred suggested...and she did. Helen named him MacArthur, and fed him milk from a bottle and cooed him to sleep in a crib.

Soon enough, MacArthur was not the only cub bathed in the tub! The couple continues to raise lion and tiger cubs as their own, until they are old enough to return them to zoos. Helen becomes the first female zookeeper at the Bronx zoo, the keeper of the nursery." Tantalizing taste:

"At the zoo, she turned the glass-paneled cage into a cozy home. Blankets. Bottles. Boxes of toys. Good thing Helen brought them all . Then peeking around the partition, she watched her babies play. She called them back for naps and snacks and cuddles."

And something more: Candace Fleming writes in A Quieter Kind of Hero: "[Helen Martini] was indispensable. In her two decades as the 'animal nursery keeper,' she cared for hundreds of babies, including a chimpanzee, two orangutans, three gorillas, a ring-tailed lemur, a pair of ocelots, a skunk, a sea lion a little of common marmosets, a round-tailed ground squirrel, an addax, a sika deer, and a long-eared hedgehog from Cyprus. The nursery, admitted Helen, often looked 'like Noah's ark.'"


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