Local Fifth Grader Publishes Book About Elephant's Triumphant "Escape" to Saint Louis Zoo


For elephants, one would think the Saint Louis Zoo would be a place to escape from, not to. Earlier this year, In Defense of Animals, an animal rights organization, named the zoo to its "Hall of Shame" on its Top Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list. A month later, one of the elephants, Jade, contracted herpes.

Word, apparently, has not spread throughout the wider elephant community, at least not in the fictional universe of fifth grader Claire Maher, who just published her first book, Puff's Island Escape.

  • KidPub Press
The book concerns the adventures of an elephant named Puff who lives in the wild on a small island. Puff does not realize what a lucky bastard he is, though, and yearns for a life where he can endless French fries and wash them down with buckets of soda. In the end, he gets his wish, and escapes to captivity and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Claire is a disgustingly well-traveled kid (she has been to Malaysia, Thailand, China, Singapore, Borneo, England and Ireland). One of the characters in Puff's Island Escape, Bananas the monkey who introduces Puff to the wonders of junk food, was inspired by a monkey she met in the Malaysian rain forest who stole food from people's breakfast plates.

Puff's Island Escape began as a fourth-grade story-writing project. Claire's school librarian forwarded the manuscript to KidPub Press, a vanity press for children's writing. The book is now for sale on KidPub's website and Amazon. Claire plans to donate the profits to Microfinancing Partners in Africa and Doctors Without Borders. But not to In Defense of Animals.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.