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Fans of Gerald Durrell’s timeless classic My Family and Other Animals will love this hilarious tale, which finds him as an adult still charmed by his beloved animals. A Zoo in My Luggage begins with an account of Durrell’s third trip to the British Cameroons in West Africa, during which he and his wife capture animals to start their own zoo. Returning to England with a fewFans of Gerald Durrell’s timeless classic My Family and Other Animals will love this hilarious tale, which finds him as an adult still charmed by his beloved animals. A Zoo in My Luggage begins with an account of Durrell’s third trip to the British Cameroons in West Africa, during which he and his wife capture animals to start their own zoo. Returning to England with a few additions to their family—Cholmondeley the chimpanzee, Bug-eye the bush baby, and others—they have nowhere to put them as they haven’t yet secured a place for their zoo. Durrell’s account of how he manages his menagerie in all sorts of places throughout England while finding a permanent home for the animals provides as much adventure as capturing them. For animal lovers of all ages, A Zoo in My Luggage is the romping true story of the boy who grew up to make a Noah’s Ark of his own....

Title : A Zoo in My Luggage
Author :
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ISBN : 9780143035244
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 198 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Zoo in My Luggage Reviews

  • Jean
    2019-03-03 12:33

    A Zoo in my Luggage is Gerald Durrell's account of a six-month trip he and his wife made in 1957, collecting animals in Bafut, a mountain grassland region in Cameroon, West Africa. This was the author's third trip to what was then the "British Cameroons", which resulted in the founding of Jersey Zoo (now the Durrell Wildlife Park). The writing is typical of his lively humorous style. Durrell was a prolific author, publishing 37 books in all, of which this is the seventh. They include a few serious nonfiction books, and a few novels, but for the main part they are all similar to this one: factual accounts of highlights from his trips. They were written partly to educate, partly to fund his next expedition, but mostly to entertain.This has all Durrell's wit and droll humour, but is not one of the best, for reasons which will become clear. Much of the book consists of conversations between the author and the hunters he has employed, or the author and the Fon of Bafut, whose hospitality he is enjoying. Right at the start of the book, Gerald Durrell expresses his worries about the Fon of Bafut, who was the traditional ruler of the town of Bafut and its adjoining areas in the Northwest Province: the local tribe leader. Durrell is concerned that that the Fon may be angry with him, and consider that he was represented disrespectfully in Durrell's previous books, as a figure of fun. To arrive in Bafut and find that the Fon, on the contrary, is overjoyed to see him again, and rekindle their drink-fuelled friendship, is a great relief. The episodes involving the two of them are extremely entertaining (although not strictly pertinent to a book about animals).The reason for this book, Gerald Durrell asserts, is that it was all very well collecting animals for various zoos, as he had been doing for several years, but it was very hard to let them go. In the interim time, when he had to care for them whilst assembling the collection, he inevitably bonded with each individual, and formed very close relationships with his charges. Well-respected naturalist and animal expert that he was, there is always a fair amount of anthropomorphising of the animals in his books, especially the mammals. Gerald Durrell knows a very great deal about animal behaviour, but just as we find with our pets, it is very hard not to view them as members of the family.Gerald Durrell also had a vision for his own zoo. He wanted it to be open to the public and to aim to become a “self-supporting laboratory” so that he could continue studying animals. He believed that ever-increasing human population encroaching on native habitats endangered so many animals that extinction of some species was inevitable. The only way to prevent this, he deduced, was to rescue some and breed them in captivity, in his planned zoo. Here he describes his approach, “For many years I had wanted to start a zoo ... Any normal person smitten with such an ambition would have got the zoo first and the animals next. But throughout my life I have rarely if ever achieved what I wanted by tackling it in a logical fashion. So, naturally, I went and got the animals first and then set about the task of finding my zoo.”This idea may also seem a precarious, perhaps irresponsible position to voluntarily put yourself in, but it is characteristic of Gerald Durrell's passionate and impulsive nature, flying as always by the seat of his pants. In earlier books he coped with lack of cash, appalling weather, lack of anywhere to put the animals (at least he know knew the wisdom constucting strong cages before the expedition!) and even coped with an internal political revolution in one book. Not actually having a site to put his zoo perhaps seemed a minor inconvenience. Perhaps in the end, it is precisely Durrell's dogged determination which got things done, rather than being forever bogged down in bureaucracy.On the way to Bafut from the town of Mamfe, where he had been staying for ten days, Durrell obtained his first animal. Joyfully he bought a rare creature, a baby black-footed mongoose, from someone in a village where they had stopped to buy some fruit, “The black-footed mongoose, although still only a baby, measured some two feet in length and stood about eight inches in height ... Her body, head, and tail were a rich, creamy white, while her slender legs were a rich brown that was almost black. She was sleek, sinuous, and svelte, and reminded me of a creamy-skinned Parisienne “belle-amie” clad in nothing more than two pairs of black silk stockings”.Beautiful she may have been, but the baby mongoose proceeded to wreak havoc in the lorry, so in desperation Durrell tucked her inside his shirt where she,"made several attempts to dig a hole in my stomach with her exceedingly sharp claws, and on being persuaded to desist from this occupation she had seized a large portion of my abdomen in her mouth and sucked it vigorously and hopefully, while irrigating me with an unending stream of warm and pungent urine."The hot dusty journey culminated in Durrell marching up the steps of the house where he was to stay, with a mongoose tail dangling out of his shirt. Meeting several important-looking strangers, he attempted to appear nonchalant as he introduced himself. Nobody was surprised. They had apparently been informed by head office to expect an "animal maniac" two days previously.This episode sets the light amusing tone - with more than a touch of absurdity - for the rest of the book. Within 24 hours, his host had not only the baby mongoose, but a squirrel, a bushbaby and two monkeys living on the verandah. The first expedition was to try to catch "ipopo", a word which caused some confusion to start with until Durrell translated it excitedly as "hippopotamus". These are very dangerous creatures, and despite Durrell's confident claim that he had got within thirty feet of them to take photographs previously, the hunter insisted,"Dis ipopo get strong head now, sah ... two months pass dey kill three men and break two boats."The description of the failed attempt to catch hippopotamuses on the Cross River, via a frightening canoe ride, is both exciting and entertaining. Not all the daily expeditions were successful by any means, and most were started by word of mouth, or the slightest rumour of a sighting. These adventures describing their mishaps are perhaps even more hilarious than their successes! Another memorable encounter was going to catch a fifteen-foot long python in a very narrow cave. There was a search for the blue-scalped, bald-headed "Picanthartes" bird. And another occasion detailed the process of smoking out a hollow tree - just to see what they could find. In the event, they collected many paper-thin whip scorpions. Durrell's energy and excitement shines through these episodes, before the expedition heads deeper into Cameroon and the highlands. Despite everything there is an irrepressible optimism about the author, and even when a situation looks at its most dire, he finds a way to turn it round with both humour and humanity.Durrell attempted to trace the hunters who had worked for him before. Word soon got round, and he was approached by several expert hunters who assured him they could collect "plenty beef". Sadly though, several had met with tragic ends,"in my eight years' absence Old N'ago had been killed by a bush-cow; Andraia had been bitten in the foot by a water beef; Samuel's gun had exploded and blown a large portion of his arm away (a good joke, this), while just recently John had killed the biggest bush-pig they had ever seen, and sold the meat for over two pounds." The book does contain rather too much conversation between Durrell and the hunters, pointing up the difficulties in communication in a mixture of English and Camtok. I would personally have been easier in my mind had the humour resulted more from the situations, rather than the fumblings towards understanding each other's various names, descriptions and negotiations. Durrell has a skill for description and evoking a sense of place, which I feel he does not make enough use of in this book. Take a passage beginning,"The only sounds were the incessant songs of the great green cicadas clinging to every tree, and, in the distance, the drunken honking of a flock of hornbills. As we smoked we watched some of the little brown forest skinks hunting among the roots of the trees around us. These little lizards always looked neat and shining, as though they had been cast in chocolate, and had just that second stepped out of the mould, gleaming and immaculate ..."which follows on for several pages giving a beautiful description of flora and fauna, beetles, slugs, crickets and a strange insect,"like a small daddy longlegs in repose, but with opaque misty-white wings ... trembling their wings gently, and moving their fragile legs up and down like restive horses. When disturbed they all took to the air ... they began to fly round and round very rapidly ... they resembled a whirling ball of shimmering misty white, changing its shape slightly at intervals ... they flew so fast and their bodies were so slender, that all you could see was this shimmer of frosty wings ..."With such an eye for detail, and understanding of animal behaviour, how much more preferable in a book about animals, is a balance between anecdotes of "animal antics" and such informative and nuanced description.Arriving in Bafut, Gerald Durrell was very relieved to find the Fon as delighted to see him as he had dared to anticipate. The Fon graciously welcomed them back, and soon Durrell, his wife, and staff, were settled into the rural compound of the Fon of Bafut and his many wives. Durrell joins his friend for many long evenings filled with talk, dance, and alcohol. The escapades Durrell has with his fun-loving, generous and uninhibited host, provide much of the entertainment for the readers in the middle section; some of the anecdotes being quite hilarious. Despite now being an old man in his 80s, the Fon still has an enormous taste and capacity for western alcoholic beverages, and is very keen on his whisky and gin. With the energy of a much younger man, the Fon is keen to laugh and party until sunrise the next day. The Fon of Bafut comes across as the life and soul of the party; the star of the show, although their escapades generally start out with quite a formal invitation. Here is an example of one written exchange between the two,"My good friend, would you like to come and have a drink with us this evening at eight o'clock? Your friend, Gerald Durrell.My good friend, expect me at 7.30pm. Thanks. Your good friend, Fon of Bafut."Gleefully, both Gerald Durrell and the readers know full well that from this mild request, mayhem will ensue.Running alongside these mischievously disreputable antics is the account of how gradually a collection of animals was amassed. Soon the Fon’s compound has filled up with hundreds more captive reptiles, birds, and animals. Durrell describes the highlights and disasters of each episode, collecting numerous mammals, birds and reptiles from various places, including sometimes as pets. They include seventeen monkeys, plus the endearing Bug-eye the bush-baby. One little troop of monkeys go into ecstasies eating grubs - but are terrified of them until they've bitten them in half! Eventually Minnie, a five-year-old chimp and Cholmondely, a baby chimp, join the "family" providing even more hilarity, as they have such engaging personalites. Cholmondely, pronounced "Chumly" was such a gentlemanly type of chimpanzee, that he greeted Durrell with an outstretched hand, fully expecting it to be shaken. We also meet Georgina, another pet, a half-grown baboon, whose former owner had left her in a compound to be picked up. Amusingly, Durrell found this task almost as difficult as actually attempting to trap one in the wild, but it he makes it sound a lot of fun,"Within half an hour she had eaten all the bananas and we had established some sort of friendship: that is to say we played pat-a-cake, we chased each other round the compound and in and out of her hut, and we climbed one of the trees together." Caring for these animals on a daily basis, feeding them and making sure they stayed healthy, proved to be a round-the-clock task. Gerald Durrell and his wife often had animals sleeping in boxes near their beds. When these animals decided that it was feeding time, they quickly discovered the fastest way to get fed was to climb into the couple's bed. Eventually Durrell had amassed more than 250 animals, some of which were very rare. It was time to give some thought to where to take them. We learn the logistics of building cages, packing them on trucks for the three-day trip back to the Cameroon coast and shipping them home. Even positioning the cages was important, so the animals did not spook each other. At all points it was paramount to keep them healthy and calm, so that they could be transported safely. At this point the book's title was decided, by a gobsmacked porter at a station, startled by the myriad of cages and boxes into exclaiming,"You've got a zoo in your luggage!"Someone always seemed to come to their rescue in Gerald Durrell's experience. During the expedition in Cameroon, they had the privilege of staying in the Fon of Bafut's Resthouse. Now they had the daunting task of trying to find a place to put all these rare animals. While they ruminated over the problem of finding a place to make a zoo, Gerald Durrell, his wife, and all the animals ended up incredibly staying in his mother's garden in suburban Bournemouth. The process took many weeks, to the dismay of the immediate neighbours. Still their difficulties had not really begun, since they had not yet secured a permanent place for their zoo, and winter was coming.A department store came to the rescue, and Durrell managed to secure a safe home there for his animals, as a live exhibit over the winter season, while he continued his search. On one occasion he had a frantic call from a policeman, as Georgina had escaped and got up to mischief by rampaging through the store. She had always had a bad habit of jumping out on people to scare them for fun, but it was a different matter for a baboon to be loose in Bournemouth, running all around a shop floor. In another amusing episode, Cholmondeley the chimpanzee surprised Durrell with his memory when they were travelling about in England. Even in such constrained and unnatural circumstances, Durrell displays his inveterate curiosity about animal behaviour, and expands both his and our knowledge by recounting anecdotes. Cholmondeley recognised the countryside as they were driving along, and as they got nearer to pubs where he had had attention lavished on him, he became very excited, and jumped up and down screeching. Cholmondeley also remembered how to get petrol into the Lambretta when they returned to the garage after several weeks. Durrell’s account in this last third of the book provides as much adventure and hilarity as capturing them. After a whole year of trying to find a place, he has a stroke of luck. He was introduced to Hugh Fraser, a resident of Jersey. An invitation to visit Hugh's home resulted, serendipitously, in finding the perfect location for his zoo. The reader may have some reservations about reading this particular book - or indeed, any "animal-collecting" books dating from that time. It is worth remembering that although now we are very conscious of the ethical considerations of taking a wild animal from its native habitat, had it not been for Gerald Durrell, ordinary people worldwide would never have had the opportunity to see or know of many of the creatures which are now so familiar to us from wildlife parks. He was almost singlehandedly reponsible for triggering many of the world's animal welfare and conservation programmes, and was a champion of better conditions in zoos, from a time when cruelty there was rife, and before the issue had ever occurred to many.An added difficulty when approaching this book, however, is that it dates from Colonial times, when the country was "British Cameroon", and sometimes it shows. Gerald Durrell was a fair man, passionate and caring about wildlife, and dedicated to preserving it for the future. He was never afraid to poke fun at himself, or to "muck in", and took as many risks, if not more, than the hunters whom he employed. Considering that he was born in British India and grew up on the Greek island of Corfu, he was a forward-looking man, thinking mostly outside his class and culture. Yet in many ways A Zoo in My Luggage is a book of its time. Even the language itself used by the inhabitants, Camtok, is referred to as "pidgin English" a name betraying a whole raft of prejudices. It dates from the 17th century British missionaries, and spread during the 18th century slave plantations owned by Britain and Germany. The official languages of Cameroon today are English and French, but 8 out the the 10 provinces speak Camtok, with its own set of rules and codes. However, Camtok continues to be discouraged and thought of as an inferior variety of English. Most inhabitants can speak at least two out of these three languages.Camtok continues to be officially marginalised even by some first-language speakers who are educators. The most obvious reason for this linguistic prejudice is that the two languages are very similar and yet so different. This means that Camtok poses a permanent threat to Standard English. Frequently there is switching between the two. A book which relies partly on these linguistic differences as a source for humour, is on very dodgy ground indeed.It has to be said that Gerald Durrell does seem to be fluent in Camtok, and mostly his reported conversations do not have colonial overtones, or display the patronising attitude which a present-day reader might fear. They are merely ... funny. It would be nice to think that the characters involved would have thought they were equally amusing. Certainly the Fon of Bafut was thrilled to gain world-wide popularity through Gerald Durrell's representation of his exuberant colourful personality. Ultimately we feel that Durrell has learned as much about life from the Fon, as the Fon has learned from Durrell and his animals. We get a sense of a fun-loving exhilaration, of people who like to see humour in everything. The line illustrations by Ralph Thompson add to the enjoyment of the book. Many of these creatures now do seem familiar, and Gerald Durrell both established his zoo on Jersey, and went on to write many more books. He became famous on television too. There is no update or epilogue to explain what happened to Durrell's zoo after it was established, or details of the captive breeding programmes he established. This might have been a good idea, considering the valid criticisms made of zoos in the fifty+ years since Durrell wrote the book, and the progress made in animal welfare largely due to his outspoken efforts. He has done incredible work and created great interest in the conservation of various species. But still, this book feels a little dated. By all means read it it you are a fan, and want to read the author's entire oeuvre as I do. He has a wealth of fascinating experience, a droll sense of humour, sensitivity, a delightful way of phrasing things, and a superb eye for detail. I guarantee you will find parts to delight you. But if you are looking for an introduction to his light informative reads, then I would advise choosing another one.Note: I have also reviewed other books by Gerald Durrell, on my shelves.

  • Phrynne
    2019-03-21 16:30

    I'm sure I must have read this years ago along with the rest of his books, but I was quite happy to read it gain. Durrell's books are a bit dated now but they are still warm and funny and full of beautiful descriptions of the countryside and of facts about the many animals he meets along the way. This was a fairly light hearted and entertaining book which could have been designed for reading in a waiting room. This was where I read most of it and it served the purpose perfectly!

  • Carrie
    2019-03-09 14:38

    I love Durrell's book the Amateur Naturalist, so I was excited to learn more about his life. But I was so disappointed by this book. His descriptions of Africa are beautiful and his animal stories are of course interesting, but I was surprised at just how arrogant an irresponsible he was, and how little his animals meant to him much of the time. He refers to them as "items" or "stuff" and has a very clear preference for the rare and exotic and the bragging rights that come with being the first to import a particular species. Death and sickness are described as an inevitable annoyance, which happen at the more inconvenient times and ruin his plans.Given the title, the period in which it occurred, and basic topic of the story (Durrell set out to collect enough animals for his own zoo), I shouldn't be surprised, but I expected so much more from someone who also wrote "through the naturalist's eyes a sparrow can be as interesting as a bird of Paradise, the behavior of a mouse as intriguing as that of a tiger..." and who claimed that his desire for his own zoo came from the "heartbreaking" process of passing animals on to other zoos, where he could not look out for them. It leaves me very curious as to what sort of person he really was.

  • Heather
    2019-03-21 14:19

    I was excited to begin this read of Gerald Durrell, founder of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, an incredible Non-Profit Organization. However, I was pretty shocked at how Durrell's writing, in this particular book, stereotyped the Africans that he encountered (to put it mildly!) Today, conservationists typically don't think it's a great idea to roam the countryside, stealing rare baby animals from their mothers, to put into cages and bring back to the collector's homeland with little idea of what the animal ate, it's roll in the environment, it's needs....etc. It is shocking to read of how Durrell began collecting in this exact manner. I do understand that this was a different day and age, and I am grateful that our notion of conservation has evolved to include the ecosystems that animals thrive in, as well as consideration of the animals themselves. Perhaps Durrell's laster writings are more insightful, but this one left me feeling terrible about Durrell's beginnings.

  • Lori
    2019-02-18 19:15

    I like to read about animals and had seen the tv series "The Durrells of Cofu on PBS. I wanted to read one of Gerald Durrell's memoirs. I would give this a 3.5. He writes about traveling to Africa to collect animals of all kinds to start up a zoo. he uses a sense of humor to write about what he went through with his team to catch these animals of all kinds to start up his zoo. This is pretty good for the most part. kind of drags in parts but still fun to read of this man's love of all animals and getting them in the Zoo of his dreams.

  • Travelin
    2019-03-05 16:19

    Pg. 58My third Gerald Durrell. Light reading, heavy on visual descriptions and ridiculous co-conspirators, this one seems more condescending than usual, even though I'm in a town full of miserable people who it might help to find funny.The sad fact of the matter is that I learn very little about zoology from Durrell's books. It's not at all my intention to do so of course. But even the account of the sloppy African ranger who married the author of Born Free had more memorable zoologic details. Put the science in footnotes at least. See Max Webber for how to do it in a fascinating way...Did Durrell ever write zoologic monographs, or was he really a late Victorian collector of anything that looked unusual or pretty?

  • Minnie Romanovich
    2019-03-13 15:44

    Enough good things can't be said about Gerald Durrell and his amazing (true) animal stories. Touching, clever, interesting, very witty and thoroughly compelling. I have seven of his books already, and my collection is steadily growing.Highly recommended.

  • C-shaw
    2019-02-19 17:32

    I've always loved Gerald Durrell's writing, even more than his brother Lawrence's. This is a superb account of Gerald's African quest for critter to populate his own zoo. The African characters are delightful and tales of the animals are so funny as well as educational.

  • Libby
    2019-03-06 13:21

    My low rating for this will disappoint people, because I know this is a well-loved book (from a well-loved author and figure). I was really looking forward to reading it - but it fell flat, for a few reasons. Immediately what got me was the antiquated tone towards the Cameroonian people. I know it was written in another time...and it shows. I am sure he respected them to some degree, but without explicitly saying it, it shows the opinion of what white British people thought of Africans at the time. The Cameroonian's actions were described with either a patronising tone or a tone of condescension - it just felt like someone describing the oddities of a toddler. The Fon of Bafut, for instance, was always just described as the Fon; he was seen as a simple man with many wives and a drinking problem, and someone with childlike reactions to any modern technology. As it happens, this was Achirimbi II, who was seen as both a controversial and progressive figure in his time, important for the shaping of independent Cameroon. You'd never get that from Durrell's description leaves the reader to believe that he lodged with a simple, alcoholic tribal leader.He also seemed to sarcastically describe everything his wife did; I'd say it had a tone of sexism but he really was sarcastic about both his assistants, male and female. I think he thought very highly of himself, which got very grating. Reminding myself that it was a different time, I accepted the tone and attitude and carried on. There were a few dull points where he went into the administration of collecting animals and a few interesting stories, too. But his attitude towards the animals was condescending as well, and that really surprised me. It seemed like he was almost indifferent about their wellbeing if it was inconveniencing him - especially when it came to creating a zoo for them. Surely something pegged that it wasn't fair on the creatures to be locked up in a back garden in Bournemouth, or a basement to a department store. (Not to mention his attitude towards councils and people rejecting his request for a zoo - surely he should have sorted that out before he trapped hundreds of animals.) I am sure it was well-intentioned, but it seemed like his desire for a zoo wasn't just to study the animals he collected, but was some sort of selfish move on his part.That's basically what it boils down to - the book was not about the people he met; it was less about the animals (though he does share more details of them than he did of the Cameroonians) and more about his conquest and what he wanted. An interesting insight into attitudes of the time and into the process it took to capture animals, but I give it 2 stars for everything else. It was okay, but just okay.

  • Biblioworm
    2019-02-28 12:19

    Натолкнулся на аудиокнигу, где были собраны отрывки из различных книг Джеральда Даррела.Это как раз тот случай, когда не надо делать никакой скидки на воспоминания детства.Книги великолепны.Книги Джеральда Даррела относятся к тому уникальному случаю, когда хороший специалист оказывается талантливым литератором.Чтение таких книг неизбежно приводит к тому, что хочется посвятить свою жизнь описываемой профессии, так увлекательно о ней рассказывается.Естественно, увлекательна любая профессия, когда ей занимаются творчески, даже склеивание коробок ;) И конечно же увлекательна она оказывается обычно не по тем причинам, что делают ее выглядящей привлекательно в художественной литературе.Но мы сейчас о книге, а не о профессии автора. Книга наполнена мягким юмором и человечностью. В ней море узкоспециальной информации о животных, которую при этом глотаешь, совершенно не затрудняясь ее объемом.И перевод на русский, автора которого к сожалению не сохранили в данных аудиокниги, также великолепен.

  • Irene Lazlo
    2019-03-16 12:43

    Ojalá hubiera hecho caso a mis padres antes y me hubiera animado hace años con Gerald Durrell. Como siempre lo he hecho tarde y mal y he empezado por el primer libro que he pillado y no por los primeros que hablan de su infancia. Aún así lo he disfrutado muchísimo, me ha despertado inquietudes y me ha hecho entender muchas cosas. Está escrito con mucho humor y a la vez mucha sensibilidad. Me da la sensación de que describe las cosas con exactamente las palabras adecuadas y las metáforas perfectas en cada caso. Leerlo ha sido un auténtico placer y a la vez me ha hecho replantearme muchas cosas. Creo que todo el mundo debería leer a Durrell, si te gustan los animales y, sobre todo, si no te gustan.

  • Jamie Collins
    2019-02-18 13:36

    An entertaining little bit of memoir from Durrell about his trip to Cameroon to collect exotic animals for the zoo he planned to establish back in England. He took the somewhat backwards approach of acquiring the animals first, then looking for a suitable location to exhibit them.It’s an amusing read, just a series of anecdotes about catching (mostly buying from the locals, actually), housing, feeding, nursing and photographing the animals.He also writes a good bit about his host in Cameroon, a potentate with a great many wives and children and a fondness for strong drink (which Durrell seems to have shared). This takes place in 1957, and the dialog in West African pidgin is awkward, although Durrell does not strike me as particularly condescending.

  • Oleg Sokolenko
    2019-03-01 19:33

    Love it!

  • IonaStewart
    2019-03-14 19:33

    This is another enjoyable and amusing book by Gerald Durrell, an account of one his animal-collecting expeditions to Bafut in the British Cameroons in West Africa. I didn´t know where this was and had to look it up in my atlas; the country must now have changed its name.Previously, while collecting animals in that country, Durrell had been permitted to stay in the Palace of the Fon of Bafut. I don´t know what a Fon is, neither could I find the word in any dictionary, but Durrell states that he was a “potentate”. The Fon in question has innumerable wives and hordes of children; he is tall, elderly, and extremely entertaining.Durrell had written about the Fon following a previous stay with him, but had become afraid that his portrait of him might have been “open to misconstruction” and the Fon might have felt that Durrell had portrayed him as a senile alcoholic. So prior to the present trip he writes to the Fon asking with some trepidation whether he, his wife Jacquie and his team might again be allowed to enjoy his hospitality. It turned out however that the Fon had been most flattered by the unexpected fame he had encountered after being depicted in depth in Durrell´s book (I don´t know yet which one that was); many Europeans had visited the Fon with Durrell´s book in their hands, and the Fon had ended up autographing all these books, as though he himself had been the author!Durrell and wife are accommodated in the Fon´s Rest House and their extra team of two arrives later; many of the locals begin to queue up outside with animals (“beef”) they have collected to sell to them, news of their arrival having hastily spread.We´re apprised of the antics of a baby black-eared squirrel they receive, called Squill-bill small and of Bug-eyes, a needle-clawed lemur. On reading Durrell´s books we realize that each individual animal has its own distinct personality, just as we humans do.When talking to the Fon and the other locals, Durrell and the others use a form of pidgin English, only half of which I for one could understand.The Durrells and the Fon enjoy many entertaining get-togethers, with much dancing, singing and drinking, not least the latter.They are presented with many monkeys, and one of their favourites is a half-grown female baboon called Georgina. She has “a wicked sense of humour”, and this leads to many both amusing and less amusing escapades.Back in England, Georgina runs riot in a large department store, so they require the aid of two constables together with Durrell´s sister Margo to capture her.At the end of the book, Durrell by a stroke of serendipity finds a suitable place to deposit his animals and set up his zoo – in Jersey.Durrell is a master story-teller and recounts innumerable riotous episodes.To sum up, another delightfully entertaining book by Gerald Durrell, though perhaps it does not quite reach the level of “My family and other animals”, which is my favourite. The writing is excellent, there are many fascinating descriptions of the various animals´ behaviour, and humour abounds!

  • Angelica Bentley
    2019-03-19 12:23

    This is an autobiographical account of how Gerald Durrell (an already much experienced “animal rustler”) assembled his own private collection of exotic animals which, in due course and against considerable odds, became the backbone of his zoo on the island of Jersey (now the Durrell Wildlife Park).I would not normally want to read about wild animals in a zoo, but this is the story of a passionate animal lover who is committed to doing what it takes to save at least some of the species that mankind's unstoppable spread is driving into extinction. Durrell's very real affection for the assorted creatures he is determined to preserve shines through, and even surpasses his scientific curiosity and commitment to studying their habits.Durrell's writing style is amusing, lively and enjoyable, despite some unavoidably outdated attitudes. There is an irrepressible optimism that drives the search-and-collect party into dodgy situations and their mishaps are related with both humour and humanity. The growing menagerie also provide many hilarious anecdotes with their escapades and strong personalities.To communicate with the locals, Durrell employs a kind of Pidgin English which is, in itself, humorous but the main reason to read this book (more than once, in my case) is that once again we get to meet the Fon of Bafut, a fascinating personage who has befriended Durrell & Co. on a previous expedition and is instrumental in the success of this present trip. The Fon is the most fun-loving, generous and uninhibited host one could wish for and, for me at least, the chapters where he appears are the best part of this delightful book. There are some charming pen-and-ink illustrations by Richard Thompson but I wish they had included a photo or two of the Fon himself. A truly funny book, even if you don't care about the animals. Read this for the humour, the scientific titbits are extra.

  • Adrienne
    2019-03-21 14:43

    This book was much more difficult to read than My Family and Other Animals, and I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, the good stuff: Durrell knows how to set up a yarn, especially a funny one. Even though I was expecting them, there were a few moments when I laughed out loud. Once, I was caught totally off guard by a funny line, and, since I unfortunately had just taken a sip of cider, literally choked and spit it everywhere while laughing. The stories in this book are funny, and the love he has for animals is apparent on every page.What made this hard to read was not the writing or plot or anything literary. It was the blatant sexism and imperialism. I know that Durrell was a product of his time, and that many expeditions looked like this: barging into some African "wilderness," taking whatever you wanted, paying over the African market value but still not fair value for what you wanted, and otherwise promoting your white self and customs above the natives'. Durrell clearly was fond of and respectful of the African friends he had made, and did not seek to actively disadvantage the natives he employed/did business with, but it turned my stomach to read the way they interacted sometimes. The natives calling him "Masa" was especially hard to swallow, as was his condescending descriptions of the natives. I know that the imperialism in this memoir is a sad fact of Africa's history. I know that Durrell was a product of his time, and did amazing things for the animal conversation movement. I intend to read all his other books, because I love the way he tells his stories. But as someone who cares about equality, I could not help but be ashamed about the underlying imperialist systems that allowed Durrell's plans to be successful.

  • Ensiform
    2019-03-10 19:43

    The true and amusing tale of how Durrell went to the Cameroons to acquire animals for his own zoo, which was then set up on Jersey in the Channel Islands. It’s apparent how much Durrell loves wildlife, or at least collecting it; and he knows how to write with fluidity and humor. I think the story was marred by Durrell’s authorial ego (he criticizes his wife for clucking over and anthropomorphizing the cute animals, but he does it all the time himself; he assumes that collecting animals from their native habitat is a worthwhile endeavor, no debate about it), and by his colonialist tone. His conversations with the Africans (and between Africans themselves) are all reported in a babyish pidgin, which may be a droll device but gets old and smacks of European condescension. The last part of the book describes Durrell’s escapades with the animals in suburban Bournemouth, which is very funny, and even informative, when he reports some simian behavior. I would have liked for Durrell to give some details of his collisions with the local bureaucracy to set up a zoo in England, but then I suppose he’s not that kind of writer. All in all a cute, lightweight book, with minor flaws rooted in the point of view of Durrell’s generation and class.

  • Joan
    2019-02-18 14:22

    I had mentioned this book to someone on Goodreads so decided to check out the library copy and reread it. It is as wonderful as ever and is one of my favorite by Gerald Durrell. In it he tells about a collecting trip he took to Bafut in Africa and his adventures with animals and people during the six months or so he was there. As the title indicates, these animals formed the core of his zoo when he returned to Britain. Once there, he was dumbfounded at how few places wanted to cooperate and get an instant zoo for free. Eventually he found a zoo on Jersey Island. The Fon of Bafut was a major character in this account and he, as well as many other creatures, such as Chumley, makes this book extra special. I don't think Durrell had the ability to write a poor book, but this is probably one of his best in my opinion. I'm not sure what he did a better job of describing, the antics of animals, or the antics of people. I still recommend My Family and Other Animals as an introduction to Durrell but this one would work too. Once you read it, don't blame me if you have to read others by this talented zoologist! Even better, join the Gerald Durrell Trust in Jersey Island and contribute to the amazing work they have and are doing to save animals from extinction!

  • Tal
    2019-02-24 18:32

    What happens when the charming, animal-obsessed boy of the classic memoirs My Family and Other Animals and Birds, Beasts and Other Relatives grows up? He founds a zoo, of course. On his third trip to West Africa, he and his wife capture animals for this enterprise. Upon returning to England, however, they have nowhere to put the animals - Cholmondeley the chimpanzee, Bug-eye the bush baby, and others - as managing his menagerie proves to be just as adventurous as capturing the creatures. A Zoo in My Luggage is a true story of the animal-loving boy who grew up to make a Noah's Ark of his own.Mr Durrell's lovingly observant eye is turned not only onto the animals of Cameroon but to the people who aided (and abetted) his efforts. the story of Small the squirrel, banished to her own cage after trying vigorously to cache a peanut in Mr Durrell's ear had me giggling quietly to myself all day ;)

  • g-na
    2019-02-27 19:37

    This is an autobiographical story about a visit Durrell took to British Cameroon (now Republic of Cameroon) to collect animals for a zoo in the U.K. On one hand, it was an interesting slice of a zoologist's life at a particular point in history. On the other, the way his "research" was conducted was completely irresponsible when measured against today's standards, and I found that difficult to read.Durrell decided he wanted to open a zoo so he first travelled to Africa to capture animals, kept them for months in tiny cages while he continued to work, then brought them home to England without having an actual zoo in which to house them. So for months he improvised, at one point keeping all the animals, still in their small cages, in the basement of a department store. I can only imagine how many animals did not survive the entire ordeal.In addition, Durrell's conversations with the natives were relayed in Pidgin, not all of which is easy to understand.

  • Deborah Pickstone
    2019-03-19 18:39

    Nothing really measures up from GD after The Corfu Trilogy but this is mildly adequate apart from the reproduction of the use of Pidgin English throughout and a very Colonialist flavour to his thinking that I actually found offensive. I can usually allow evidence of the reality of a former time to sit in its place and not bother me but this time it did bother me and I am put off reading any more from this author; I believe his heart was in the right place but I could clearly slap him for some of his attitudes.My view: if people were capable of learning Pidgin English they could have been taught English proper and not thus effectively ghettoised.

  • Katie
    2019-02-27 14:41

    No matter how 'out of date' his books may be now, Gerald Durrell remains an absolute pleasure to read. Not only does he have a wealth of fascinating experience from which to draw, he has an excellent eye for detail. His style is dry, amusing, and full of that oh-so-English litotes which is so rarely seen in newer writing. I often found myself laughing out loud at his delightful way of phrasing things.I did find the constant use of pigdin grated a little. However, this was mostly because it sounded like JarJar Binks, and I can hardly blame Gerald Durrell for something that was George Lucas' fault some 40 years after he wrote this book. I became used to reading it fairly quickly though, and it soon ceased to actively annoy me.

  • Kathy
    2019-03-03 16:20

    Hilarious! I've read many books by Gerald Durrell, several of which involve his animal-collecting trips all over the world to obtain creatures for his small zoo in the Channel Islands. This book covers a 6-month collecting trip in Cameroon and his tongue-in-cheek descriptions of his adventures and MISadventures with animals is delightful and had me laughing out loud. I had to google several of the animals having never heard of such creatures as water chevrotains and bushbabies.

  • Robin
    2019-03-03 19:32

    British naturalist Gerald Durrell and others travel to Africa on an animal collecting trip in this non-fiction book. He tells some great stories about getting animals and visiting (i.e. drinking) with a local headman. Though he had wanted to use the animals in a zoo in Great Britain, he eventually was able to find property in Jersey - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durrell_....

  • Marie Knock
    2019-02-18 12:22

    It takes a few chapters to warm up, but after that it's gripping. I read it all in one afternoon. It's not for those who are used to fiction or controllable life tales, but for anyone who is remotely interested in wildlife and conservation it's a must read.

  • Jocelyn
    2019-02-19 19:30

    Fun to re-read after decades! Not sure what feels more dated - the innocent enjoyment of pidgin English, or the gifts of cigarettes in exchange for favours :-)Borrowed from Colin

  • William
    2019-02-26 11:21

    Entertaining, but very very light in the depth department. Good for real brain candy when you don't want to think even a little.

  • Derek
    2019-03-18 15:25

    read travelling Indonesia in 1990: http://www.5cense.com/15/404.htm

  • Christina
    2019-02-26 18:37

    3.5 StarsMy favorite aunt gave me this book many years ago. She loved animals—her house was always full of them, including an assortment of dogs she’d find abandoned on the side of the road that she’d bring home. Every time I see this book, and a few others she gave me, I think of her.Durrell has a great gift for description, for both the animals and the people he meets, as well as the landscape. He’s a great observer and storyteller. Much of the dialogue is in the Pidgin English he uses to communicate with the locals, which was interesting and surprisingly understandable.The thing I had to keep in mind while reading was that this book was written in another time. As tempting as it is, I can’t judge Durrell by modern standards. Even if it’s hard not to, as he puts the word out for local hunters to bring him “beef,” the term for any animal. (I wonder if it’s “beef” because almost any animal could be a food source?) At any rate, this results in countless animals, many of which he doesn’t want, being captured, some being harmed in the process. He tells one story of a small deer, affectionate and docile in her cage, who bolts the moment she’s free—every time. He seems to genuinely find this surprising. That an animal would escape given the opportunity. In another story, a chimp releases the doormice, and in attempting to catch one, its tail is damaged and has to be amputated. As a now imperfect specimen, they release it, despite that they caused the harm. But no matter how many times the little guy is set in yard, he insistently finds his way back to the cage until they finally take him back. Durrell does seem knowledgeable and wants to care for the animals he’s captured. He wants to study and learn about them, seeing the knowledge benefitting the species in the long term in terms of both conservation and educating the public. I assume most of the animals he’s seeking weren’t in captivity, so the modern concept of having captive-bred animals rather than taking them from the wild wasn’t available. But it still feels wrong to seize a wild animal and make it live in a cage for the rest of its life.Again, I had to reconcile this with the period. Though his previous work involved capturing animals for other zoos, there’s no indication that his work is motivated by greed to make a profit. He genuinely just seems to love animals and wants to study and interact with them. And to somewhat defend his actions, the locals who catch these animals would likely have otherwise considered them food. Most notably, he says they eat chimpanzees, so it was rare to get one. Again, by modern and American standards, it’s appalling. Animals that are rare, exotic, highly intelligent, or human-like are not food. The idea is awful to me. But I don’t judge the local people. They survive on the food they hunt—it’s not like they can go to the deli at the local Kroger. Again, they use that word “beef” for all animals. Which makes me think about how the ability to perceive animals as we do today is something of not just a modern concept, but a luxury. We don’t have to rely on all animals as a food source, we can choose. We even have access to enough protein sources to choose not to eat animals at all. Similarly, today there are so many animals in captivity to study and educate, but not so long ago that wasn’t the case. Durrell notes his goal is to learn in order to conserve. I looked hi. Up on line, and that’s what he devoted his life to, protecting habitats and promoting captive breeding programs to preserve endangered species.

  • Alena
    2019-02-27 11:19

    After reading New Noah first, I have just a feeling that some parts are rewritten from the first mentioned. But, let's put it in order. Now I have a double-book (Czech translation, paperback). The first part is about Author's first visit to Bafut. The last chapter of it possesses the title "On the way back" - and it is a copy of a chapter from New Noah. Just a few words are added (about avocados on the ship).In New Noah, Durrell takes chimpo Cholmondely to the London Zoo. In a review to this book (A Zoo in My Luggage) there is Cholmondely mentioned as a private possession of Durrell. (In New Noah he "only" transported Cholmondely to give him to the London Zoo as a gift from his previous owner.)I find this one a little boring at times, describing the visage of precious animals in details. Otherwise, descriptions of huge trees, lianas, and other parts of the jungle, landscape, rocks, which are also abundant, I find interesting. But overall impression is equal to three stars.