Posts Tagged ‘animals’
This is one of the magical autobiographical books by Gerald Durrell. He was a multi-talented whirlwind who changed the face of zoos and helped to educate people and also to help save some endangered species. I have written about him before so I won’t write much now.
This book is set in Argentina. Durrell searches windswept Patangonian shores and tropical forests in the Argentine for additions to his private zoo in addition to filming as much as possible. He spent a great deal of time with his team looking for elephant seals so as to film them and was quite disheartened. They all sat down to lunch having just given up looking and all of a sudden one of them moved, he was about 10 feet away, his camoflage was so good they hadn’t seen him. It turned out there were several on the beach and it took a great deal of effort to spot them. Durrell then regaled his team with detailed information about the sex life and intestines of the elephant seals until he was told off as they really would prefer to eat their lunch.
Durrell managed to meet the most delightful people in his search for animals. The man I’m going to talk about is Luna. He seemed to be one of the most even tempered people I’ve read about. Apparently he spent a lot of time singing, even starting to sing before opening his eyes in the morning and generally the last thing Durrell heard at night was Luna singing. Thank goodness he could sing better than my father who used his singing instead of injections, people couldn’t wait for the drilling to start so he would stop. Luna was a fine singer and knew many, many songs, he regaled the whole party with a good deal of those songs. Sounds like a lovely man.
Gerald Durrell was a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author, television presenter and all round nature lover. He spent a lifetime collecting animals, studying them and educating people and zoos in the best way to study and keep them. He’s written a large number of books about his childhood, his collecting and his zookeeping days.
This particular book describes a collecting expedition to the Cameroons where he put together a pack of African hunters and mongrel dogs which he called the Bafut Beagles and together they collected a vast range of animals. Durrell spends some time describing some of the hunts as well as describing the cleaning of the animals and his struggle to keep them alive. He spends time describing the animals and their personalities as well as his interactions with the people around him. One particular day is incredibly long as he spends a lot of time drinking with the Fon of Bafut (the head man), only to get back to his house and go straight out for a lengthy hunt, on his return he then makes cages and feeds and waters the new animals as well as looking after the current animals before finally getting to bed.
Durrell struggled with the superstitions of the local people. One story stands out. It’s the story of the Que-fong-goo, a skink about a foot long, the Bafutians thought it was poisonous and that even to touch it meant death. Durrell thought otherwise and managed to catch one and to the amazement of the Bafut Beagles he stuck his thumb into the skinks mouth; needless to say he didn’t die but the Bafut Beagles were convinced he would. He talked to them about white man’s medicine and eventually talked the Fon into trying out the ‘medicine’ (some boracic acid) on his hands and then picking up the skink. He was fine and the next day the Bafut Beagles talked Durrell into giving them some white man’s medicine so they could go out and hunt some Que-fong-goo for him, they came back with a good catch. He then ordered a good supply of boracic acid for the future.
He wasn’t quite so lucky in an encounter with a snake. He disobeyed the cardinal rule of look before you put your hand into the container and was bitten by a deadly snake. He quickly cut into his flesh around the bite and got rid of as much poison as possible before being driven to the nearest doctor. He was lucky enough to make it to the doctor in time but all sorts of things went wrong first such as the car needing to be push started.
Anyway, I love all of the books written by Gerald Durrell. He’s lead a colourful life and has an entertaining way of sharing that with us. Some of his books detail how he started his zoo in his sister’s garden and how he was able to move out of there to somewhere far more appropriate.
If you’re an animal person you probably looked at the title and thought it was natural, but to some people it isn’t. If you look around while you’re shopping you’ll find that most businesses do not have a cat or a dog or even a bird or a fish helping out. I did a bit of a google search tonight and found a couple of businesses which have a dog, a bird or even a fish and numerous references to businesses that have a cat. The interesting thing here is that the cats in the business outnumber the dogs and cats are almostly solely to be found in book shops. Here is an article comparing cats and dogs in bookshops while here the owner talks about Sam, the cat, leaving nose prints on the window and this one has some fish which customers often feed.
My favourite is Syber’s Books as mentioned in this article. I’ve visited the cats there and one of them is the largest cat I’ve ever seen.
I’m prepared to bet you won’t find a single clothing shop with a live animal in it, nor will you find a homewares shop with a live animal. What would be really lovely is if you can comment about your favourite shop with a live animal, send me a photo and I’ll put it up.
This article has been brought to you by WinewipesOZ who told me about a book tonight and then described it for me. I was struggling for something to write about until she mentioned it.