Gerald Durrell – the friend of all animals
Gerald Durrell spent all his life in the company of wild animals and insects. His full name is Gerald Malcolm Durrell. He was an English naturalist, writer, founder of the Jersey Zoo and the Wildlife Fund.
Gerald was born in India on January 7, 1925. His mother often joked that his first word was ‘zoo’. When he was three years old his family moved to England, then to the Greek island of Corfu – to get away from the terrible English weather. With his mother, his sister Margo, and his brothers, Leslie and Larry, Gerald spent five years on the island. That was the start of his long career as an animal expert.
They lived in an old villa. One day Gerald found a big female scorpion with lots of light brown babies clinging to her back. He put them into a matchbox, put it on the mantelpiece and… forgot about his new pets. Suddenly he heard a scream from the sitting room. The scorpion and her babies ran all over the table, hiding under dishes and napkins. Gerald had to catch them with a tea-spoon.
In 1939, the Durrells moved back to London because of the war. At the end of the war Gerald got a job in Whipsnade Zoo, where he started looking after the lions and other animals.
21-year-old Gerald decided to go on expeditions to collect wild animals for British zoos.
On one trip to Africa, Gerald was given a pet monkey called Chumley.
Back home in England, his sister’s garden was soon crammed with monkeys, vultures, squirrels and frogs.
His elder brother, an author, Larry Durrell, suggested that Gerald should write about his adventures. So Durrell became a famous writer. His first story ‘Hunting for the Hairy Frog’ was unexpectedly successful, even the author himself was invited to read a story on the radio. His first book, ‘The Overloaded Ark’ (1953) was devoted to travel to Cameroon. A fee for it and the second book Three Singles To Adventure (1954) allowed Durrell to organize an expedition to South America in 1954. His impressions of this trip Durrell described in the next book – The Drunken Forest (1955).
In total Durrell wrote more than 30 books and directed 35 films.
In Jersey, the Channel Islands Durrell set up a zoo which is now known all over the world as a sanctuary for endangered species.
Gerald died on January 30, 1995 in St. Helier, Jersey.