Three Singles to Adventure
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Gerald Durrell is on his way to South America on a quest to capture specimens that have never before been brought back alive. And it turns into quite an adventure when he encounters timid squirrel monkeys, wailing rats, an overly affectionate bird christened Cuthbert and a bad-tempered anaconda! Bringing back a living collection of animals can be frustrating, exciting and damned hard work, but it’s never dull!
Gerald Durrell was one of Britain’s best-loved naturalists, whose books, including My Family and Other Animals, continue to entertain and amuse generations of children and adults alike. Fifteen of his classic titles have now been republished by Bello.
‘Stuffed with exquisitely ridiculous situations'
are able to go for long periods without food if they want to; the record appears to belong to a three-toed specimen in a zoo that once fasted for a month without any ill-effects. They can also survive injuries, which would prove fatal in any other animal, and can even take large doses of poison without apparently suffering any harm. This ability to survive injuries, as well as their slow and deliberate movements, makes them strangely reptilian creatures. Oviedo, in his discourse on sloths, makes
various trips to the interior. He was never allowed to put a brush to canvas, and towards the end he had no canvas to put a brush to, for we had taken it to make snake boxes out of, for sending shipments by air. He had to eat and sleep surrounded by a fantastic assortment of birds, beasts and reptiles; he had to swim across lakes and rivers, wade through swamps, struggle through forest and grassland, getting scratched and bruised, hot and tired. As we started off to Adventure on that fateful day
‘and it has put me off the family.’ It had happened when Smith and I were staying in a boarding house in the back streets of Georgetown while we were looking round for a place in which to establish a base camp. Our landlady had very kindly told us that we might use her front garden in which to keep any specimens we got in the meanwhile, and we took her at her word. I don’t think the poor woman quite realised what her invitation would entail, but as her tiny garden began to get over-crowded with
us, but we must have moved, for it sheered off, and we saw it no more. We retired at dawn, bitten and tired and cursing all reptiles. When we told McTurk about our failure he looked very thoughtful, then, saying he would see what he could do, he wandered off in the direction of the river. Later we followed him to see what he was doing, and we found he had constructed a trap of great simplicity and ingenuity. My spirits rose on seeing it. He had dragged two of the long boats half out of the
under a strong light and examined them carefully. Except for their colossal proportions they were exactly like any tadpole you can find in an English pond in the spring. They were, however, a sort of mottled greenish-grey instead of black. The transparent edges of the tail were like frosted glass, and they had ridiculous pursed-up mouths with protruding lips that made them look as though they were blowing kisses at us through the glass. Watching them wiggling tirelessly round the jar gave one an