QUEEN OF SHABA: The Story of an African Leopard by Joy Adamson

QUEEN OF SHABA: The Story of an African Leopard

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Before her bizarre murder last January, Joy Adamson had raised and returned to the wild a female leopard, completing her study of the three large African cats. This posthumous volume is her record of that experience in the Shaba Reserve in Kenya, from Penny's first appearance at two months to the birth and early nurture of her two cubs. Lovers of Elsa the lion and Pippa the cheetah will find Penny less endearing--she bites too often and unpredictably--but just as interesting: Adamson believed she had a sense of humor and could reason to some degree. She was affectionate, especially when in oestrus, and welcomed food and companionship from her human friends long after she lived alone in the bush. She learned to fear the savage baboon troop nearby and followed a standard predator's cycle, spending 8-14 days in one area, then moving on to another to allow prey to return to the first territory. Adamson reports on Penny's milestones in her familiar narrative style and includes snatches of Swahili and important cat comparisons along with an irresistible supporting cast: white-tailed go-away birds, a friendly bull giraffe, a spitting cobra in the tent. This time around, however, in addition to the usual staffing and supply problems, Adamson herself is prey to numerous ailments and accidents--malaria flare-ups, bites, bone breaks, etc.; she takes these all in stride, apparently determined to see her task through regardless of personal suffering. So this remains a vivid, informative documentation and another fine achievement in a crowded career.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1980
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich