Gerald Durrell joined Whipsnade as a student keeper in 1945. This is the story of those early years, which he shared with his bosom friends Billy the Goat, Peter the Giraffe and some jitter-bugging gnus.
©1973 Gerald Durrell (P)2011 BBC WW
I heard this story years ago on tape, and have been hunting for it. Durrell has an entertaining way of writing about his personal experiences with people and animals, and this book tells the story of his transition from his childhood collecting of pets to his lifelong work with zoos. He writes of the people he met with affection yet humor, and the reader does a good job telling the story. My family quotes lines from this book, using the reader's inflections because he's done such a good job with it.
James Herriot's stories for the combination of stories about eccentric people and quirky animals. Durrell includes more information about the animals, using the stories as a way to teach, which was one of his passions.
Durrell, who is about 18 in the story, is invited to go with his boss and their family into town. The director of the zoo, an eccentric, has a novel way to save gas in those days of fuel rationing after World War II. He turns the engine off as the car goes down a hill and instructs his family to "push." What he means is for them to remain seated and jerk their bodies forward and back in such a way as to increase the forward force. He is convinced that if they will all do this simultaneously, they will propel the car further than they managed last time they made the trip.
The stories about relating to the animals in the zoo. The bear who Durrell discovered liked to hum, so the two of them would sing duets together, getting off some good harmonies.
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