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About the Author

Ralph Helfer is a well-known Hollywood animal trainer who was one of the first to use affection and kindness to train wild animals. He is the author of THE BEAUTY OF THE BEASTS and MODOC, and he lives in Los Angeles and Kenya, where he leads safari tours.


Following the success of his last book, Modoc, about "the greatest elephant that ever lived," animal trainer Helfer now recounts the story of his life with Zamba, "the greatest lion that ever lived." In the late 1950s, Helfer's dream of owning a lion came true when he acquired a cub. The daunting task of raising Zamba allowed Helfer to put into practice his "affection method,"which he was developing for use in a growing movie animal business. Helfer became one of the top trainers in Hollywood, owing much of his success to Zamba's remarkable ability to work closely with actors in difficult situations. Despite his saccharine writing style and unrealistic, flowery dialog, Helfer makes the narrative enjoyable with tales of Zamba riding in a car down the streets of Hollywood with his head and shoulders sticking out of the sun roof and of an assistant who tried to discipline a wild lion in Africa, mistaking it for Zamba. Purchase where animal stories are popular.-Ann Forister, Roseville P.L., CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Extraordinary ... Beautifully expresses a simple philosophy so many have trouble following: respect for all living creatures, given and returned."--Kirkus Reviews
"A warmhearted tale of love between two species."--Booklist
"Wonderful, detailed... amusing... Zamba is a charming read."--People
"An incredible story of love between man and lion ... moving.... will touch the heart of any animal lover."--Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating book ... humorous and touching."--School Library Journal

Adult/High School-From a young age, Helfer had a way with animals and an urge to work with them. After an inauspicious start as a teen helper in a Los Angeles pet store, he gradually acquired animals that movie studios used in their productions. He was the first Hollywood animal trainer to use affection rather than fear. He showed that his method worked better, and now, of course, it has become commonly accepted. He even turned an orphaned lion cub into a vegetarian for a brief period, to test a theory. Over the years, Zamba appeared in many movies and television commercials and shows, riding to jobs in the back of Helfer's station wagon, uncaged. The author reminds readers that wild animals are never thoroughly predictable and are not house pets; even Zamba surprised him occasionally, although never in a dangerous way. The special bond between these two mammals; Helfer's ideas about animal-human communication and understanding; and the many stories, both humorous and touching, make this a fascinating book.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Legendary Hollywood animal trainer and behaviorist Helfer captures an incredible story of love between man and lion that displays all the qualities that made his previous book, Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived, so moving. Here Helfer is involved with the subject, which adds emotional depth to a lifelong adventure. Starting with his somewhat brutal childhood on Chicago's South Side, the author deftly develops his story of the spiritual harmony he finds in nature and the violence he sees in the film industry's use of animals. His unique bond with a lion cub he names Zamba grows into a lifetime relationship that includes countless guest stints in movies and television shows, and leads to Helfer's development of a system of animal training "based on love, not fear," called "affection training." It "has revolutionized the way animals are trained and treated in the motion picture industry." The heart of the book is an account of Helfer's trip to Africa to assist Zamba with a starring role in The Lion, where the author's bond with his lion becomes a true spiritual connection that will touch the heart of any animal lover. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Richard Curtis. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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