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By Gerald Malcolm Durrell

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

Gerald Durrell was once one in every of Britain’s best-loved naturalists, whose books, together with My relatives and different Animals, proceed to entertain and amuse generations of kids and adults alike. Fifteen of his vintage titles have now been republished through Bello.

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Hastily, before Mother could recover from the shock of meeting Hortense, I thanked the boy and his father profusely, grabbed the dog lead that was attached to Hortense’s collar, and led him towards the garage. Not for anything would I confess to Mother that I, too, had imagined Hortense to be a tiny, heart-melting fawn. I had expended a large sum of money on a feeding bottle for what now turned out to be, if not Landseer’s ‘Stag at Bay’, at least a close approximation of it. Followed by Mother, Hortense and I entered the garage where, before I could tie him up, he had evinced a deadly loathing for the wheelbarrow which he attempted unsuccessfully to toss in the air.

It was extremely peaceful; the bees hummed drowsily among the flowers; somewhere a wood-pigeon was cooing self-satisfiedly to himself; and distantly came the yapping of a dog. The front door was opened by Mrs Bailey. She was a handsome woman with fine eyes; her hair was beautifully coiffured and her overall was spotless. She had the brisk, clean appearance of a hospital matron. ’ she inquired cautiously. ‘Good morning,’ I said. ’ ‘Well, Charlie told me to come and see you. I’m Gerry Durrell. I’m new here’.

The bushes were black and still. As I moved along the side of the cage I knew that I was being followed; I could almost feel the eager eyes fixed on me, but the tawny bodies made no sound and the great paws did not snap a single twig as a guide to their whereabouts. As I started up the hillside, away from the cage, there came a great sniff, full of scorn and derision. Some people refuse to believe that a lion can throw his voice deliberately They maintain that all he does is to hold his mouth close to the ground when roaring, so that the sound is blurred and it is impossible to tell from which direction it is coming.

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Beasts in my Belfry by Gerald Malcolm Durrell


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