Gerald Durrell

From Academic Kids

Gerald ('Gerry') Durrell (January 7, 1925 - January 30, 1995) was a naturalist, zookeeper, author, and television presenter, best known for founding the Jersey Zoological Park on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1958, and for writing a number of books based on his animal-collecting expeditions.

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Gerald Durrell
Contents

Biography

Durrell was born in Jamshedpur, India of British parents. The family returned to the UK after the death of his father in 1928, and moved to mainland Europe in 1933. They eventually settled on the Greek island of Corfu, where Durrell began to collect and keep as pets the local fauna, and stayed until 1939: this interval was later the basis of his best-known book, My Family and Other Animals, and its successors, Birds, Beasts, and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods.

In 1945, Durrell joined Whipsnade Zoo as a junior keeper. This move fulfilled a lifelong dream: Durrell claims that his first spoken word was "zoo."

Durrell's wildlife expeditions began with a 1947 trip to Bafut, in the area that later became the country of Cameroon (financed by a 3,000 inheritance). He continued for many decades, during which time he became famous for his work for wildlife conservation.

On July 6 1963, he established the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, known since his death as the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, to establish, at his zoo, breeding colonies of endangered species.

Durrell was helped by his first wife, Jacqueline, and later by his second wife, Lee McGeorge Durrell, whom he met in 1977 when he gave a lecture at Duke University in North Carolina where Lee, a zoology instructor, was studying for a PhD.

Durrell received the Order of the British Empire in 1982.

The movie Fierce Creatures was dedicated to him.

Bibliography

Durrell's books, which include several novels for children, have a wry but loose style that poked fun at himself as well as those around him. Perhaps his best-known book is My Family and Other Animals (1956), which tells of his idyllic, if oddball, childhood on Corfu. Later made into a TV series, it is delightfully deprecating about the whole family, especially elder brother Lawrence Durrell, who later became a famous novelist. Despite Gerry's jokes at the expense of "brother Larry," the two were close friends all their lives.

Nonfiction

  • The Overloaded Ark (1953)
  • The Bafut Beagles (1954)
  • Three Singles to Adventure (1954)
  • The Drunken Forest (1956)
  • My Family and Other Animals (1956)
  • Encounters with Animals (1958)
  • A Zoo in My Luggage (1960)
  • Island Zoo (1961)
  • Look At Zoos (1961)
  • The Whispering Land (1961)
  • Menagerie Manor (1964)
  • Two in the Bush (1966)
  • Birds, Beasts And Relatives (1969)
  • Catch Me a Colobus (1972)
  • Beasts in My Belfry (1973)
  • The Stationary Ark (1976)
  • Golden Bats And Pink Pigeons (1977)
  • The Garden of the Gods (1978)
  • The Picnic And Suchlike Pandemonium (1979)
  • The Amateur Naturalist (1982) (with Lee Durrell) (1982)
  • Ark On the Move (1982)
  • How to Shoot an Amateur Naturalist (1984)
  • Durrell in Russia (1986) (with Lee Durrell)
  • The Ark's Anniversary (1990)
  • Marrying Off Mother (1991)
  • The Aye-aye And I (1992)

Fiction

  • The Donkey Rustlers (1968)
  • Rosie Is My Relative (1968)
  • The Talking Parcel (Battle for Castle Cockatrice) (1974)
  • The Mockery Bird (1981)
  • The Fantastic Flying Journey (1987)
  • The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure (1989)
  • Keeper (1990)
  • Toby the Tortoise (1991)

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