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4.4 out of 5 stars
A Zoo in My Luggage
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gerald Durrell spent most of his life collecting interesting animal specimens and Durrell is an interesting human specimen himself. His well chronicled life (mostly chronicled by Durrell) begins with the hilarious, and very succesfull, "My family and Other Animals". It is ably followed up with the equally hilarious "Birds, Beasts and Relatives". Both books are full of tales from the Durrell family's years on the Greek Island of Corfu, pre WWII. Little Gerry dives right into the flora and fauna of the island, including its human fauna. I own very few nonfiction books with such a plethora of memorable characters. Now, of course, we get to the volume in question. It is plenty good, and worth multiple readings over years, as is "The Overloaded Ark" and several other books detailing trips to collect animals. A word of warning, don't go nuts and buy all the zillion Durrell titles. Some of them are out of print for a reason and were most likely dashed off by Durrell to finance a collecting trip or two...
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Naturalist/writer Gerald Durrell, with a writer's eye for unusual detail, a great sense of humor and absurdity, and an unquenchable enthusiasm for finding unique animals, recounts his third animal-collecting trip to the Cameroons in this classic 1960 memoir, recently reprinted. Supplying other people's zoos for many years, Durrell, on this trip, intends to collect specimens for his own zoo, one which will be open to the public and which will become a "self-supporting laboratory" with a captive breeding program to prevent the extinction of these species.

Arriving on the west coast of Cameroon, Durrell uses pidgin to converse with the Africans and refers to all animals as "beef," but he soon acquires many rare animals from the local population. A frightening canoe ride through hippo-infested waters, an attempt to capture a fifteen-foot python, a search for the blue-scalped, bald-headed Picanthartes bird, and the experience of smoking out a hollow tree keep Durrell and his staff energized and excited before they head to the highlands. There, Durrell stays with the charming Fon of Bafut, a elderly king with many wives, and he and Durrell enjoy many long evenings of talk, dance, and whisky. Soon the Fon's compound fills up with hundreds more captive reptiles, birds, and animals, including a half-grown baboon, a five-year-old chimp, and a baby chimp, all of which provide innumerable, often hilarious adventures.

Durrell provides details about the care and feeding of these animals, and he and his staff prove to be very "hands-on" caretakers, often having animals creep into their beds. The logistics of building cages and, eventually, packing them for the trip home, reveal the level of detail necessary to keep these animals healthy and calm so they can survive the trip to England. Upon his return, Durrell then begins the daunting task of trying to find a place to house these rare specimens, a task he neglected ahead of time.

A lively writer with a commitment to conservation and a tremendous sense of fun, Durrell gives the flavor of the whole trip, not just the academic details, providing realism at the same time that he reveals irrepressible humor, much of it directed at himself. His sensitivity to his surroundings, which he conveys through vibrant descriptions, makes the countryside come alive, while his anecdotes about the animals and the people he meets show his interest in expanding his knowledge while fully participating in events around him. Though there is no epilogue to bring the reader up to date on the success of Durrell's zoo or its captive breeding program, this information is readily available at: [...] Mary Whipple
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
I would seriously recommend this book to anyone on the planet. Do you like nature? Read this. Do you like animals? Read this. Do you like humour? Read this. Are you someone who appreciates a good book? Read this. You will come away knowing lots of interesting facts about obscure animals,have sniggered your head off, and with vibrant images filling your head. This is an autobiography jam-packed with laughs and description.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 1997
Format: Audio Cassette
Let's say you want a zoo of your very own. How would you procure animals?

Answer: Catch 'em.

'A Zoo In My Luggage' is about one of Gerald Durrell's riotous animal-collecting trips. Travelling to the Cameroons, he meets up with colourful charcters such as Cholmondely the chimp and Small the squirrel. If you didn't laugh your guts out, check your pulse.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Gerald Durrell's books have touched the hearts of naturalists for decades and I admit that I have only become a fan of his in the recent years. I was introduced to his books through my local used bookstore, where I was looking for copies of James Herriot's books that were not offered at my local bookstore, and decided to pick up a few and try them out.
His stories have a incorporated a vivid energy and hilarity into his passionate memoirs of unique nature experiences that will entertain any nature-lover. While some of his scientific practices may now be considered obsolete, we are given a rare glimpse into the love and respect for all things living that has been a core aspect of any naturalist throughout the ages.
I have since bought as many of Durrell's books that I have been able to find, and treasure each and every one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
When this, and the others in the series, first came out I devoured them eager for the mysteries of Africa and its birds and animals and remarkable characters. Having now traveled to many of the countries so well described, I have recognised some of the animals and birds Durrell describes and memories of the Bafut of Fon come flooding back. Read and enjoy, then visit if you can.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a super book, light, interesting and funny. I love Gerard Durrell, and it is hard to find hard copies of his work. I recommend this book to anyone who likes stories of people, families and the animals they are involved with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Another gem from Durrell -- sort of a prequel to Menagerie Manor -- in which he narrates his adventures in Africa where he went to scour for animals for this upcoming zoo. As usual, he describes the animals with such beauty that they pop-out of the screen and stream directly into your brain -- the best 3D I have ever experienced! His narrative is peppered with lavish doses of humor and his stoic narration simply adds to the mirth. Another short read that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great language, humor and wonderful story telling are hallmarks
of Gerald Durrell's books. Always enjoy reading them. I got this
for my son on his 11th birthday. I think it will also help him
greatly improve his vocabulary.
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on January 8, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The story of Durrell's first collecting trip wherein he knew the animals he brought back would form the basis of his own zoo. Only problem was, he didn't have a location yet. Hilarious adventures, from collecting them, then getting them through customs back into England, to finding temporary shelter for the animals while seeking a permanent site. This particular book is an old favorite of mine; wanted a hardback copy for my personal library.
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