The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press is the book publishing division of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, a nonprofit international conservation leader, committed to inspiring a passion for nature and working toward a world where all life thrives. Through its publishing efforts, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press seeks to motivate and inspire multiple generations to care about wildlife, the natural world, and conservation. 


The True Story of a Spunky Baby Tapir

By: Georgeanne Irvine

Published: October 11, 2022

Publisher: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press


Before reading this book, I had no idea what a tapir was. I had to look it up and found that they are actually closely related to a horse and a rhino even though they have the shape of a pig and a nose like an elephant. They are an endangered species due to their slow rate of reproduction and their habitats being destroyed. The San Diego Zoo staff helped raise, Don, a baby Tapir neglected by his mother and this is their story.

Don was Luna’s first baby and she didn’t know how to care for him. So, the zoo staff jumped in and fed him bottles, scratched his back, and rubbed his belly. As he grew, he became more comfortable with the zoo staff and with his surroundings. Unfortunately, the other zoo animals in his habitat area weren’t as nice to him. He did have one friend, Bristle, the capybara, but otherwise Don was happy playing on his own.

As Don grew, the zoo staff began preparing him for living like tapirs in the wild like introducing him to water and fruit and vegetables. Soon, Don was old enough to be moved to the Nashville Zoo and meet Juju, a female tapir, and hopefully become a parent one day. Don is thriving in his new home and even though he was neglected by his mom and bullied by his animal friends, he never let it bother him and just continued on with his activities. Even though Don the tapir is an animal, I think there will be kids who can relate to his feelings of being scared of something new, feeling hurt by friends or family, and the excitement of a day spent swimming in the pond.

Tapirs are such a unique-looking animal. Babies are born with stripes and spots so they look a bit like a brown watermelon. But, like a fawn, the stripes and spots disappear as they reach about eight months old. Tapirs live in rainforests in South American or Malaysia where there has been illegal hunting, land cleared for farming and mining, and even wildfires. Their homes are being destroyed which is reducing the population of tapirs greatly.

The photography makes the readers feel a part of the journey raising Don and his life at the zoo. The pages include text about his care as well as fact bubbles about Don and other zoo animals.The book also offers ways that readers can help protect the wildlife in their own areas as well as around the world.

Georgeanne “George” Irvine has devoted her career to raising awareness about animals and wildlife conservation. She is the director of publishing for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, where she has worked for more than four decades, as well as the author of over two dozen children’s books about animals. Major passions for George include traveling, photography, storytelling, Broadway musicals, and, of course, wildlife. She lives for adventure travel and loves seeing animals in their native habitats.


By: Carrie Hasler

Illustrated by: Christina Wald

Published: October 11, 2022

Publisher: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press


Fiction is mixed with fact in this story that reminds us of the need to preserve our precious planet, especially the Amazon where habitats are being destroyed.

Santiago the Sloth is the innkeeper of a very special Treehouse where animals needing a place to stay can come and visit…for as long as they need. But, what was once a quiet inn has turned loud and overcrowded with various animals all living together in the space of this tree. From Howler Monkeys to Scarlet Macaws to Poison Dart Frogs to a tiny chrysalis, everyone has a place to stay in the Treehouse Inn.

Intermixed with the fiction, kids will learn a bit about the animals and what they need from their habitat. Kids will learn that the sloth is slow and sleepy and it may take him a while to take his turn playing checkers. Tamarins like to eat fruit and the Poison Dart Frogs like to be close to water. Santiago made sure everyone’s space was just what they needed.

The illustrations are so vivid and almost look like actual photos of the animals. There is a stunning full-page spread in the middle of the book showing all the animals living at the Treehouse Inn that is like a seek-and-find. At the very end of the book, there is a key to that specific page naming all the animals so kids can see if they found them all.

Even though much of the rainforest has been destroyed, there are groups replanting trees and other plants to build it back up again. So, Santiago’s Treehouse Inn is no longer overcrowded as many of the animals have been able to return to their usual habitat. The end of the book offers ideas for how to support and save the Amazon…even this far away. I also loved that the front inside cover included facts on each of the leaves about sloths and other animals in the rainforest.

Carrie Hasler loved stapling sheets of blank paper together to write and illustrate her very own picture books when she was a child. Her passion for writing and creativity continued into adulthood as an elementary school teacher. With over twenty years of experience in education, Carrie helped launch Blue Sneaker Press, an award-winning children’s book imprint of Southwestern Publishing House, in 2015. Carrie is the author of a graphic novel and four picture books. Carrie holds degrees from Pomona College and San Diego State University. Check out her website, HERE.

Christina Wald has done illustrations for more than fifty children’s books. She also makes comics, designs toys, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning with a degree in Industrial Design. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two cats and is an avid Urban Sketcher and travel addict. Check out her website, HERE.

To purchase a copy of RAISING DON and SLOTH’S TREEHOUSE INN, click the photos below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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