The best zoology books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about zoology and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Cry of the Kalahari

By Mark Owens, Delia Owens,

Book cover of Cry of the Kalahari

If you are longing for an African safari, this book is for you. The Owens’ are a young couple conducting their graduate research in the deserts of Botswana. In reading, you are in the field with them, waking to the roars of lions, drifting to sleep as hyenas yowl, and experiencing the daily grind, danger, and thrill of field research. I love this book because it is so real. It allows me to see the animals the Owens study—mostly lions and hyenasthrough their eyes and in so doing not only appreciate their wonderful biology but also learn what it takes for a young scientist to understand them.  


Who am I?

I am an ornithologist who studies the myriad ways in which we affect birds and they, in turn, affect us. I’ve conducted field research for over four decades, focusing mainly on the behavior, ecology, and evolution of corvids—crows, ravens, jays, and their relatives. Through these birds I’ve discovered how our settlements, agriculture, and recreation play into their hands, often to the detriment of less adaptable species. As a professor of wildlife science for 25 years, I’ve mentored many graduate and undergraduate students and written hundreds of technical articles. In my writing for popular audiences I aim to celebrate the successful birds that share our world and raise awareness of those we are driving toward extinction.


I wrote...

Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans

By John M. Marzluff, Tony Angell,

Book cover of Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans

What is my book about?

Crows are mischievous, playful, social, and passionate. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people—in our gardens, parks, and cities—they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, staying away from and even scolding anyone who threatens or harms them and quickly learning to recognize and approach those who care for and feed them, even giving them numerous, oddly touching gifts in return. The ongoing connection between humans and crows—a cultural co-evolution—has shaped both species for millions of years.

With his extraordinary research on the intelligence and behavior of corvids—crows, ravens, and jays—scientist John Marzluff tells amazing stories of these brilliant birds in Gifts of the Crow. Teamed with artist and fellow naturalist Tony Angell, they offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and our shared behaviors, illustrated with gorgeous line drawings.

I Like Animals

By Dahlov Ipcar,

Book cover of I Like Animals

First published in 1960 this is a beautiful example of illustration in book form. From my contemporary perspective as an animal lover there is a sense that this book celebrates the tendency we have as humans to capture and own animals, with zoos, farms, and pet shops filling almost every page. To me, this book celebrates a naïve adoration and love of nature that doesn’t necessarily fit with the modern need to protect and preserve the natural habitats that humanity has spent generations pillaging. I’d like to think that this is a beautiful conversation starter about how we can best appreciate the natural world. 


Who am I?

I adore depictions of the natural world, I've always been fascinated by how humanity interacts, describes and catalogues birds and animals. I’ve collected books on birds for as long as I can remember and sought solace in the golden hues of the gardens and parks of my childhood. My own book is a reflection on what can be described as ‘queer nature writing’, the exploration of an environment that does not judge our identity or gender. The motivation of all my work is to challenge injustice in subtle and surprising ways and my ongoing mission to share my work from Pansy Boy, The Pansy Project, and Birds Can Fly


I wrote...

Pansy Boy

By Paul Harfleet,

Book cover of Pansy Boy

What is my book about?

Pansy Boy is a picture book told in rhymed couplets, a young boy tackles homophobia in school by planting pansies at the site of homophobic attacks, taking strength from the natural world and flowers he loves. The power of his actions empowers his school to value what is delicate and different. The book comes to life in vivid graphic art and comes complete with a personal field guide to the flowers and birds included in its pages.

Arctic & Antarctic

By Barbara Taylor,

Book cover of Arctic & Antarctic

I have always found the Eyewitness series of books to be very appealing and this one is no exception. Because every two-page spread can stand alone, readers can read the book from cover to cover or just dive into whatever sections or topics are most appealing to them. I find myself captivated by the high-quality photographs throughout, whether of colorful sea stars living in the cold waters around Antarctica or a fuzzy moose calf living in the Arctic. As a geographer, I find this book to stand out because it covers animals and plants of the polar regions, as well as what life in these harsh regions is like for both native peoples of the Arctic and explorers in both polar zones.


Who am I?

I’m a geographer and the author of more than 170 (mostly nonfiction) books for kids. I began my career at the National Geographic Society and have worked on a variety of projects for them over the last three decades. I also taught middle-school geography for years. In addition to my featured book, I have written numerous magazine articles on topics related to polar regions—from Siberia’s Eveny people to climate change in the Arctic. I am the author of Living in the Arctic and several books on countries in the polar regions. I was recently interviewed by PBS Books for my book on Benjamin Franklin’s scientific work.


I wrote...

Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

By Alicia Klepeis, Grace Helmer (illustrator), Gestalten (editor)

Book cover of Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

What is my book about?

Penguins and polar bears never get to meet—except maybe at the zoo! But what else is there to know about the Arctic and Antarctica, two of our planet’s most mysterious, fascinating, and vulnerable regions?

Penguins and Polar Bears takes the reader on an adventure to the ends of the world, exploring the land, as well as the the unique and resilient animals and plants to be found at the North and South Poles. You’ll dive into the chilly oceans, skim over the brightest ice sheets, and meet the incredible people who live and work in these regions. So pack your warmest clothes and get ready for a very cool journey!

The Poles

By Bernard Stonehouse, Richard Orr (illustrator),

Book cover of The Poles: Explore the natural world of both the Antarctic and Arctic Polar Regions

As soon as I picked up this book, I was blown away by its spectacular illustrations. There are two special foldouts where the book expands to have four-page wide illustrations of the Antarctic and Arctic regions. Most kids’ books that cover the Antarctic don’t get into as much detail about the different environments there—from pack ice to the islands around the continent. But this book does a beautiful job of showing that the Antarctic is more than just ice and snow and that the wildlife is diverse and fascinating. I also loved the section on the Arctic’s polar desert with its beautiful dwarf lupin and moss balls. Readers might be surprised to discover the butterflies and bearberries of the tundra regions as well. 


Who am I?

I’m a geographer and the author of more than 170 (mostly nonfiction) books for kids. I began my career at the National Geographic Society and have worked on a variety of projects for them over the last three decades. I also taught middle-school geography for years. In addition to my featured book, I have written numerous magazine articles on topics related to polar regions—from Siberia’s Eveny people to climate change in the Arctic. I am the author of Living in the Arctic and several books on countries in the polar regions. I was recently interviewed by PBS Books for my book on Benjamin Franklin’s scientific work.


I wrote...

Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

By Alicia Klepeis, Grace Helmer (illustrator), Gestalten (editor)

Book cover of Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

What is my book about?

Penguins and polar bears never get to meet—except maybe at the zoo! But what else is there to know about the Arctic and Antarctica, two of our planet’s most mysterious, fascinating, and vulnerable regions?

Penguins and Polar Bears takes the reader on an adventure to the ends of the world, exploring the land, as well as the the unique and resilient animals and plants to be found at the North and South Poles. You’ll dive into the chilly oceans, skim over the brightest ice sheets, and meet the incredible people who live and work in these regions. So pack your warmest clothes and get ready for a very cool journey!

Science of Creature Design

By Terryl Whitlatch,

Book cover of Science of Creature Design: Understanding Animal Anatomy

Whitlatch is best known for her creature designs for Lucasfilms, so as you can imagine her book is full of amazing illustrations explaining how to design your very own creature. It specifically takes a look at breaking down and combining different types of animals from the five vertebrate classes, as well as a close look at using dinosaurs as a reference. 


Who am I?

I have been drawing fantasy creatures and characters for over thirty years now, and have collected hundreds of fantasy, art, and art instruction books over the decades. Both drawing and reading are a passion of mine, so I am happy to share some of my favorite fantasy art books that I have in my own personal library.


I wrote...

Drawing Fantastic Dragons: Create Amazing Full-Color Dragon Art, Including Eastern, Western and Classic Beasts

By Sandra Staple,

Book cover of Drawing Fantastic Dragons: Create Amazing Full-Color Dragon Art, Including Eastern, Western and Classic Beasts

What is my book about?

Drawing Fantastic Dragons teaches you all the tricks and techniques you’ll need to create your own amazing dragons and bring them to life in distinct and dramatic colors. With easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, you’ll discover how to draw all types of dragons. Packed with example after example, this hands-on guide features dragons of all shapes and sizes, and includes a special section on how to draw unique beasts. It also features a special section on adding claws, scales, horns, beards, and other details to your dragons. 

They All Saw a Cat

By Brendan Wenzel,

Book cover of They All Saw a Cat

This book is brilliantly and creatively illustrated, featuring a black cat (which I have a soft spot for) from the point of view of a boy, a dog, a mouse, a bee, a bird, a snake, and more! This seemly simple concept not only scientifically showcases the difference in each animal's capabilities of vision and sense perception, but it also demonstrates that things can be perceived very differently depending on the perspective of the viewer. It’s has a really lovely and subtle message for young children while introducing them to the extraordinary word of zoology in a fun and creative way. A great book for children and adults alike.

Who am I?

While I am a self-acclaimed cat expert, I have been an animal lover since I could remember. In fact, my favorite childhood memories are of me running barefooted through grass, catching bugs, and chasing birds. I wasn't allowed big pets growing up, but I'm pleased to say I now have two furbabies that fill my heart with love and inspiration! I am still fascinated by nature and the animal kingdom, often indulging in books, podcasts, and especially David Attenborough’s natural documentaries. I think they are all extraordinary and this passion influences my work too, as evident in my body of work. I really enjoy observing and painting animals, as well as illustrating animal characters.


I wrote...

No Fuzzball!

By Isabella Kung,

Book cover of No Fuzzball!

What is my book about?

A hilarious new story from debut picture book artist Isabella Kung. Fuzzball is the queen of the house. Her subjects just love how she scales the tallest shelves and drags their belongings across the floor. Hear how they shout her name everywhere she goes ..."NOFUZZBALL!" But when they leave her queendom for the weekend, she questions whether she should be a more benevolent ruler.

Fans of funny, lovable characters like Aaron Blabey's Pig the Pug, Mo Willems's Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and David Shannon's No, David! will fall in love with this furry, feline despot.

The A-Zs of Worldbuilding

By Rebekah Loper,

Book cover of The A-Zs of Worldbuilding: Building a Fictional World from Scratch

I love that the dedication is to the A to Z Challenge bloggers of 2014. (I was one of them!) Here's a well-written and comprehensive reference guide. There's a strong author voice and a great amount of information. It covers the importance of including diverse characters. I recommend The A-Zs of Worldbuilding: Building a Fictional World From Scratch to writers building a fictional world, and to writers using an unfamiliar setting. A necessary reference tool for authors.


Who am I?

I have taken part in the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge #atozchallenge since 2014. I volunteered on A to Z founder Arlee's group early on. I was elevated to co-host in 2017 and became the Team Captain in 2018. In 2019, I ran the "#AtoZChallenge Book Reviews, Tour, and Blog Hop!" My own book, Writing Book Reviews As An Author: Inspiration To Make It Easier, was created because of the challenge. I used my method of writing book reviews, broken down alphabetically, to create a month of blog posts. Then compiled those posts into a book. Authors depend on book reviews, but struggle to write them for others.


I wrote...

Writing Book Reviews as an Author: Inspiration to Make It Easier

By J Lenni Dorner,

Book cover of Writing Book Reviews as an Author: Inspiration to Make It Easier

What is my book about?

This book aims to provide inspiration to encourage people to write more book reviews. It is written for authors, though any reader can benefit.

New book lists related to zoology

All book lists related to zoology

Bookshelves related to zoology