Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Golden Bats And Pink Pigeons by Gerald Durrell

PBS viewers have been introduced to the Durrell family by the series on their time in Corfu.  Gerald was the youngest child and his distinguishing characteristic was his love of animals, a love that was indulged by his mother in a way few children experience.  This was a love that formed his life and work. 

Golden Bats And Pink Pigeons is about Durrell's time on the island of Mauritius in the 1970's.  It was the home of the dodo, the most famous example of extinction, and still at that time was home to many animals, reptiles and birds found nowhere else on earth.  Durrell's focus as an adult was not just on exploring and finding such animals, but on his work as a biologist who ran a refuge in Jersey where endangered animals could be brought to breed in captivity until their numbers were such that they could be reintroduced to their native habitat.  This work is ongoing after Durrell's death.

In this work, there are chapters devoted to the various animals he and his crew captured to rescue in their four months in the area.  There is a chapter about the pink pigeons, one about various lizards and skinks they captured and another about bats.  There is a luminous chapter about the coral reefs surrounding the island and all the never-before seen fish and other inhabitants of it.  There is a chapter about the capture of boas.  All of this work occurred in uncomfortable if not dangerous environments and Durrell's time there left him weakened and ill.

Readers will be enthralled with his adventures and his humorous method of making light of misfortunes and hard work.  Durrell's delight in everything he saw and his passionate determination to rescue species on the verge of extinction shines through on every page.  This book is recommended for readers of nonfiction who enjoy travel books and those interested in the environment.

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