When I was a wee bonny lass I walked into a second-hand bookstore and picked up a tattered book titled “My Family and Other Animals”. It was one of the funniest books I had read and actually reminded me of Roald Dahl, only with all his adventures involving animals and real events. Thus my love for Gerald Durrell was born. It is not easy to find his books and I have bought all of my collection from second-hand bookstores around the world. There was something about his wit and deep, genuine love for animals which really spoke to me.
Years later I was to discover how important he really was, his name notable and foremost amongst conservationist and advocates for endangered wildlife. Here in Sydney, we make it a point every year to visit the Australian Museum for their Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition where the most acclaimed prize is named the Gerald Durrell prize in honour of his conservation efforts. This exhibition travels all the way from London’s Natural History Museum (in conjunction with BBC and yes, Durrell is a Brit).
Recently in late March 2011, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has had a major achievement with the birth of the very rare Black Lion Tamarin. There are less than 1000 of these cuties left in the wild, with all of them residing in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Read more about the efforts here and here plus see videos of Francisco, the newest member of the Durrell tamarin troop. While you’re there, do feel compelled to drop off a small donation towards the crucial work of the selfless Durrell Trust.
I highly recommend the Durrell books (the earlier ones are better) and the photography exhibition which runs from around December to March each year in Sydney.