Jan 31, 2011

The Wandering Whale

and Other Adventures from a Zoovet's Casebook
by David Taylor

I do so enjoy David Taylor's books, about working as a veterinarian for wildlife in zoos, parks and private collections. When I can get my hands on a copy I gobble it up and hold onto it to read again later. He's such a good storyteller, and his firsthand accounts of working with exotic animals are always interesting (and sometimes downright funny). In The Wandering Whale some of the creatures he treats include an orphaned walrus, a capuchin monkey in need of a caesarean, a stranded whale, another monkey with diabetes, falcons suffering from fungus in their lungs and an emu who can't lay its egg. There's also a self-destructive hornbill, a pair of pandas in a zoo reluctant to mate, and the heart-wrenching story of an orca suffering from a mysterious internal infection. Taylor doesn't have any qualms about sharing the more depressing, unpleasant aspects of vet work. It was really sad to read about the whale he struggled for months to save, not knowing exactly what was wrong but going through treatment after futile treatment (including ozone therapy, something I never heard of before). I wonder if nowadays it would be any easier to diagnose and treat such a sick whale...

The book is pretty focused on just telling stories of Taylor's work with the animals. He doesn't spend much time explaining background events. One chapter does veer into a kind of rant on how mankind exploits animals, even those we keep as beloved pets. Overall it was a really enjoyable read, with information that sometimes surprised me.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 196 pages, 1984


Jenny said...

I feel like I've heard of this author before -- have you reviewed his stuff in the past? I did a search for this title in particular on my library website, and the library offered me Alberto Manguel, a history of Africa, and a book about colonialist fiction. I'm not sure my library website understands English.

Jeane said...

Yes, I've reviewed four other titles by him. Your library sure pulled up an odd result! Mine didn't do much better; it gave me an entire page of other authors and at the very bottom there is only one title by him in the entire system (and it's one I own). So the only chance I have to read more of his books (besides the pet manuals) is to find them used.