by Gerald Durrell
A while back I read A Bevy of Beasts, about Gerald Durrell's apprenticeship in an English zoo. The Whispering Land describes one of Durrell's trips to collect wild animals, after he had established his own private zoo. I got off to an awkward start with this book, because I haven't read its prequel, A Zoo in My Luggage. But after the initial confusion of the first chapter, I settled right into it. Here Durrell describes his travels with a team of assistants to remote areas of Patagonia, where he tracks down local wildlife, mostly those being kept as pets in people's homes, to buy for his collection. He gathered monkeys, coatimundis, peccaries, some odd south American rodents, parrots, macaws, diminuitive owls and numerous other birds. The rescue of a starving, abused ocelot and purchase of a gorgeous young puma rounded out his collection. I loved reading the detailed descriptions of the animals, especially the wildilfe he also observed- guanacos, rheas and armadillos in the forested areas, colonies of nesting penguins, fur seals and elephant seals on the beaches. There's a really funny passage about some foxes playing with a roll of pink toilet paper in one of their camps. Durrell's writing style isn't terribly eloquent, but the descriptions of the local culture, different people he encountered and the animals themselves make this a good read. I was only disappointed that there was a page missing in my copy, so I'll have to look for another one someday for my own library.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 235 pages, 1961
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