THE STATIONARY ARK by Gerald Durrell
Kirkus Star


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Of the five hundred or so zoological collections in the world, a few are excellent, some are inferior and the rest are appalling."" Among the ""excellent"" Durrell counts his own twelve-year-old issue, Les Augres Manor, extending over 35 green acres on the Island of Jersey. In the ongoing zoo controversy Durrell takes a slightly unpopular position, opposing both ""anthropomorphic architecture""--ugly cement edifices providing no diversions--and also the trendy safari parks so difficult to maintain. Instead he prefers sophisticated cage arrangements, constructed according to animal needs, where colonies can breed successfully and, only secondarily, engage the public interest. On this breezy tour Durrell resembles a proud papa, pointing out the advantages of particular cages (his reptile house can simulate the Borneo monsoon season) and the Les Augres policy on data collection (precise), diet (no false economies), and medical care (regular). Along the way he casually introduces unpronounceable species (hutias, angwantibos, waldrapps, potomagales, tenrecs) and genially expatiates on some choicer specimens from the human zoo--consultants, untrained keepers, vets (""Competent veterinary surgeons you can find; intelligent ones are as rare as unicorns""). Durrell is too charming to be tendentious--as always, his anecdotes are prime timed--and his regulars will appreciate this more sober venture.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Simon & Schuster