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3 Best Ralph Helfer Books (2021)

Best Ralph Helfer Books ReviewBio

Helfer was born on the 9th of April, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois, the United States of America. Ralph is a well-known, renowned American animal behaviorist, the creator of Marine World/Africa USA, and the writer of many book concerning our animal comrades.


Ralph was born in Chicago, with his sister Sally. In the year of 1942, Ralph’s mother left her partner, Ralph’s father, Sam, and moved along with Ralph and Sally to Hollywood. Here, they settled in the Green Apartments, a mere block away from the adored Hollywood Boulevard.

Best Ralph Helfer Books

Photo Title Rating Length Buy
Modoc 9.12/10 352 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Zamba 9.16/10 272 Pages Check Price On Amazon
The Beauty of the Beasts 9.04/10 256 Pages Check Price On Amazon


In the 1980s, namely in 1981, as a fifty-year-old, Ralph was the writer and the producer for the adventure movie named Savage Harvest. In the 1990s, however, Ralph started his career – a rather lustrous one – as an author.

Most of the books written by Ralph are concerned with the non-fiction stories of the lives of famous animals. As of this moment, Ralph lives in Los Angeles, but also in Kenya, as he leads safari tours along with his company Eden International Safaris and Treks. As such, we will now take a look at what the best-rated Helfer books are.

Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived


Entwined for Eternity

Modoc was published in the year of 1997. While younger generations might have had Nemo and Dumbo, there was, quite a bit of time ago – north of thirty years, in fact –, female elephant, Modoc. It is one of the top Helfer books ever.

We follow Modoc and Bram in this story. They were born on the same day, in the same hour, even, as they are 2 souls connected to the core, entwined for eternity. Bram is quite caring, loving, and protective of Modoc, as the story would have us know.

Genuine Story

Worth noting is that, as Helfer would have us know, the story is a genuine, candid one. The story actually begins in Germany, though it isn’t long before we begin traversing the world with our protagonists.

It features a multitude of adventures, a ghastly, horrifying tempest, a shipwreck that changes the courses of their lives, Indian princes, even circuses; the story, truly, has more than what one can ever imagine.

Love, Loyalty, and Adventure

And we haven’t even begun to discuss the overarching themes that strike and encompass the story: we have love, loyalty, adventure, and plenty more! Bram’s unique affection for his elephant counterpart reaches through north of three-hundred pages.

Truly lucky is he, having found friends and a life partner that comprehend and admire his connection to Modoc. He matures through the story, as his very own spirituality is developed with the aid of Modoc and the mahouts. It is one of the best Ralph Helfer books and should definitely be among the top books on one’s reading list! We hope that our Modoc by Ralph summary will help you get an idea of what this book is about. Let’s now move further with our Helfer book reviews.

Zamba: The True Story of the Greatest Lion That Ever Lived


Queer Phone Call

Zamba by Helfer was published in the year of 2005. As much as we love Modoc, it is our opinion that Zamba is the best Ralph Helfer book. Let us elaborate.

It was a completely ordinary day prior to a queer phone call that rang through Helfer’s estate: a friend of his had found a young lion dying in the Zambezi River, in Zambia, and he rescued him, bringing him all the way to the United States of America.

New Home

His friend knew that Ralph had a keen interest in all animals, but also that Ralph had wanted to raise a lion ever since he was a young boy. Zamba, as the 2-month-old cub was named, arrived a few weeks later. In a bare, few moments, Zamba was already asleep on Ralph chests: Zamba had founds his home away from home.

The ‘affection training’ of Ralph, as he referred to it, paid special dividends with Zamba. While his coevals, contemporaries, and fellow animal trainers, told Ralph that he was a madman, surely the lion would grow older, turn on him, and take his life, they said. This prospect, however, never came to fruition. Ralph Helfer’s Zamba lived more than eighteen years with him, they even became motion picture and TV legends.

True Pleasure

More than that, they even slept together, on the same bed, Helfer acted as his own, personal dentist: Helfer remained adamant, knowing that Zamba was still an animal, liable to take his hand if too much discomfort was caused to his mouth. A book infinitely worth the read, a true pleasure for devouring. This is why we consider it Helfer’s best book.

The Beauty of the Beasts: Tales of Hollywood’s Wild Animal Stars


Hollywood Stars

The Beauty of the Beasts: Tales of Hollywood’s Wild Animal Stars by Helfer was published in March of 1990 – about forty years ago.

In The Beauty of the Beasts, we see Helfer as he chronicles the plentiful TV programs, movies, and shows, in which the animals he catered to and took care of, appeared. These features the likes of Charlie’s Angels and The Ten Commandments.

Brush With the Death

His animals have, also, worked along with stars like Cher, Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, Elvis Presley, and plenty more. We even see what drove Helfer to take the career path that he did. He’d had a very close brush with death as a young, lively Hollywood wild-animal trainer as a result of the then rudimentary, crude ‘fear training’ of the animals.

After this, Helfer attempted to make a more caring, loveable form or method of training, and eventually, he came to dub it ‘affection training’. He utilized common forms of affection found in humans, like love, respect, caring gestures, and other behavioral techniques.

Absolute Marvel

Spanning a bit over two-hundred-and-fifty pages, the book is an absolute marvel to read. One can learn uncountable things from the experience and the wise words of Helfer. Rare are human beings with so much regard and admiration for animals, and even rarer are the feats he accomplished.

Helfer’s whole bibliography is a gem. Each book is packed with fascinating tidbits and hints into the behavioral psyche of the animals he cared for. One of Ralph Helfer’s best books that one might want to read is Mosey.

Michael Englert
Michael Englert
Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.