A Conversation for Gerald Durrell - Animal Collector, Conservationist and Author

Was Gerald Durrel a true conservationist?

Post 1


Surely the answer must be yes. ( i wouldnt dare to say otherwise)
He is remembered with a great deal of affection and he is surely responsible for some species survival.
Very little though is said about the numbers of animals that died as a result of his activities.
People who lived in the countries he visited speak of the countryside emptying of wildlife in the rush to provide him with specimens; he even admitted that one in 3 died before they go to the zoo, so how many animals is that?(300 out of every 1,000)Then of course there are the ones that died before they got to him.
Consider too that he didnt even have proper accommodation before he got his zoo, was that because of his obsession or because he was utterly confident of premises.
Peter Krott who wrote the book Tapu Tapu was a great lover of wolverines, but at the end of the book he had gone through not far short of a hundred of these rare animals.(he sold most of them to zoos)
Gavin Maxwell of whom no ill must be spoken went through over 30 otters before he was done.

Was Gerald Durrel a true conservationist?

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

Durrell didn't hide the fact in his books that many of the animals died before he got them back to the zoos. In the early days, it was considered that there were plenty of animals in the wild, and the ones that made it to the zoo were guaranteed a live of luxury compared with the ones that stayed and died in the wild - remember, living the jungle is no picnic. So it was worth the risk.

But the event that turned Durrell into a conservationist was when he was commissioned to bring back a baby hippo for a zoo. Hippos are extremely dangerous creatures, so the only way to capture a baby was to kill the parents. He found a mother and baby in a river in the Cameroons, and shot the mother. But then the father appeared, very angry, and a fight ensued in which the pursued the father and shot him too. When they got back to the baby, it had been eaten by a crocodile. So he had just wiped out a complete hippo family with nothing to show for it. He never wrote about this in his books, but from that moment on, he decided the welfare of the animal came first, and that he would never deliberately kill another animal.

Was Gerald Durrel a true conservationist?

Post 3


Presumably if he had brought back the baby hippo that would have been ok?

Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more