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San Diego Zoo Global Press children’s books win IBPA Ben Franklin Award™

Heartwarming stories of animals overcoming the
odds capture Gold and Silver

san diego zoo books
Ruuxa & Raina: A Cheetah and Dog’s True Story of Friendship and Miracles; image courtesy of the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Global Press is proud to announce that Ruuxa & Raina: A Cheetah and Dog’s True Story of Friendship and Miracles, and Karen’s Heart: The True Story of a Brave Baby Orangutan by Georgeanne Irvine, won the 31st Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award™ for best nonfiction children’s books in the Young Reader: Nonfiction (8-12 years) category. The two books are part of a trio in the San Diego Zoo Global Press Hope and Inspiration Collection, with Ruuxa & Raina winning the Gold medal and Karen’s Heart winning the Silver medal.

Celebrating excellence in book editorial and design, the prestigious IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™ are sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). The awards were presented on April 5, 2019, in Chicago with winners recognized for setting the standards and pace for the publishing industry.

Along with Karen’s Heart and Ruuxa & Raina, the third book in the collection, Fabulous Floyd: The True Story of a Flamingo Who Never Gave Up, shares a similar purpose of encouraging children to care about animals and the environment. The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award recognizes that Ruuxa & Raina and Karen’s Heart are among the most successful children’s books in achieving this goal.

Georgeanne Irvine, a 41-year San Diego Zoo Global employee, is the author of more than two dozen children’s books about animals. Irvine’s love for wildlife has taken her on expeditions to many places around the globe—from the jungles of Borneo and South America, to the mountains of China and the forests of India, to the Outback of Australia and the savannas of Africa.

“The Hope and Inspiration Collection gives kids the opportunity to follow one animal’s story and understand the implications it holds for the whole species,” said Irvine. “I want to thank the judges for these awards, but more importantly for recognizing the value that the children’s books will have on inspiring future conservationists.”

The books can be purchased at retail stores at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, online at and Amazon, and through other zoos, children's hospitals and specialty retailers.

Named in honor of America’s cherished publisher and printer, the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™ recognize excellence in independent publishing. Books are grouped by genre and judged on merit by industry experts including buyers at wholesale and retail levels, librarians, book critics, design experts, and independent publishing consultants. Panels of 162 judges evaluated over 1,500 submissions in 54 categories to create the list of this year’s finalists and winners.

With more than 3,100 members, the nonprofit IBPA is the largest trade association representing independent publishers in the United States. Founded in 1983, its mission is to lead and serve the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success.

As an international nonprofit organization, San Diego Zoo Global works to fight extinction through conservation efforts for plants and animals worldwide. With a history of leadership in species recovery and animal care, San Diego Zoo Global works with partners in science-based field programs on six continents, and maintains sanctuaries and public education facilities in many places. Inspiring passion for nature is critical to saving species, and San Diego Zoo Global’s outreach efforts share the wonder of wildlife with millions of people every year. Current major conservation initiatives include fighting wildlife trafficking and the impacts of climate change on wildlife species; broad-spectrum species and habitat protection efforts in Kenya, in Peru and on islands worldwide; preventing extinction in our own backyard; and expanding efforts to bank critical genetic resources and apply them to the conservation of critically endangered species.

Published July 9, 2019

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