Born in India, Gerald Durrell returned to England when he was three, and five years later, the entire entourage, lead by his intrepid, imperturbable mother, went abroad again, eventually settling in Corfu. From the age of two, he was fascinated by zoology, over the years assembling a large, and not altogether savory, collection of pets, strays, and specimens. As his unofficial zoo grew, so did his family’s discomfort. The solution was to find another, more permanent outlet for his passion. So in 1945 he joined Whipsnade—a new concept in open-range animal exhibits—as a student keeper, with Albert the lion, Babs the polar bear, and a baby Père David’s deer among his first charges. In this entertaining history, he recaptures all the passion that permeated those early years, while conveying his insight into and affection for both four- and two-footed creatures. The book is full of larger-than-life animal characters: the bear who sang operatic arias with one paw clasped to his breast, his bosom friend Billy the goat, playful zebras, and a host of equally endearing and memorable critters. This is Durrell at his zoophilic best.
A loving chronicle of jitter-bugging gnus, singing duets with a bear, stealing eggs to feed the Arctic foxes, practicing tiger sniffs . . . Highly entertaining and informative.
A hilarious record that no Durrell fan will want to miss.
Durrell manages to convey not only that he loves animals, but that he enjoys life too – and wants you to enjoy it with him.