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Former St. Petersburg Times reporter Thomas French joins the Colbert Nation



zoo-story-cover.jpgAn author knows he's in trouble when an appearance on Comedy Central's sidesplitting Colbert Report begins with a journalists-out-of-work joke.

"I know you work at a newspaper, so I fired almost my entire staff today," Stephen Colbert told former St. Petersburg Times feature writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas French Wednesday, when he stopped by the show. "Is there a breeding program?"

To his credit, Tom didn't try to keep up with Colbert in the funny department, instead struggling through laughter to talk about the process of writing his bestselling book, Zoo Story: Life and Death in the Garden of Captives. He spent six years researching the efforts to turn Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo into a big city zoo, first in a series for the St. Petersburg Times and later for his book, which Colbert had endless fun lampooning.

Check out the NPR story on Zoo Story here. Check Tom's 2007 series for the St. Petersburg Times here.

"I think you're burying the lead with this book, it should be called Escape From Monkey Island," quipped Colbert after hearing a story about how monkeys lammed out of an enclosure after officials failed to anticipate they could swim. "It's monkey madness mayhem."

"Tampa wanted a big city is about ego," Tom said. "This idea...that our species has the right to gather other species from around the world and hold them in the place, says a lot about our assumptions of human supremacy."

Check out the full exchange, where Colbert asks whether former zoo leader Lex Salisbury ever mounted Tom, below:

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Thomas French
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[Last modified: Thursday, August 19, 2010 9:00am]


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