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By Gerald Malcolm Durrell

A captivating account of Gerald Durrell’s first activity as a pupil keeper in Whipsnade Park in 1945.

Gerald Durrell used to be certainly one of Britain’s best-loved naturalists, whose books, together with My kin and different Animals, proceed to entertain and amuse generations of kids and adults alike. Fifteen of his vintage titles have now been republished by way of Bello.

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Joe, on the other hand, was brown-faced and, with his twinkling blue eyes and husky, infectious laugh, he exuded good humour. When they had finished their breakfast, which my arrival had interrupted, Jesse walked the length of the section with me showing the animals and explaining the work. At one end of the section there was the wombat, Peter, then an enclosure full of Arctic foxes and another full of racoon-like dogs. Then came the cage containing the two puff-ball-white polar bears and a pit containing one pair of tigers.

I do hope he’s not going to be too fierce, dear,’ said my mother worriedly. ’ I knew only too well how my elder brother felt about anything, fierce or otherwise, in the animal line and I was only too delighted that he, together with my other brother and sister, happened to be out when Hortense arrived. ’ At that moment Hortense decided that he did not like being left alone in the garage and so he charged the door. The whole garage rocked to its foundation. ‘Perhaps he’s hungry,’ said Mother, backing down the path.

Then he would make a sudden dash into the trap, grab the meat, and endeavour to escape with it before we had time to rush down the path and slam the door on him. More often than not, the iron door clanged down some two inches behind his retreating tail and we would be left standing there foolishly while he carried his trophy off to some secluded spot to settle down and enjoy it. This, of course, would put an end to our trapping and we would be forced to wait twenty-four hours until Albert felt peckish again.

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Beasts in my Belfry by Gerald Malcolm Durrell


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