Book Review: Menagerie Manor by Gerald Durrell

Having really enjoyed Encounters With Animals, I was eager to read more of Durrell’s work and they were added to my mental wish list, and in a happy coincidence I discovered this book on a charity shop shelf and had to buy it.

The book concerns Durrell’s observations and misadventures while running his zoo in Jersey. I’ve actually been to this zoo, many years ago and I remember it being fantastic, with a real emphasis on conservation and breeding, it’s still in my top 3 zoos (along with Longleat and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

durrell menagerie

Durrell captures the challenges and difficulties of keeping animals, but there seems to be very little regret and, just as some books get the feet itching, this book made me long for a menagerie of my own. Durrell’s humour, warmth and obvious affection for the animals in his care remains utterly charming and his descriptions of various creatures and the problems they cause are entertaining and lively. He gives the animals character and captures their idiosyncrasies well, giving a sense of each beast and their stories are uniformly endearing.

Originally published in 1964 it shows Durrell’s forward thinking, his desire that zoos should serve to create breeding colonies to protect endangered species is a practice that continues today and has helped keep some species going where otherwise they would have joined the dodo.

For anyone with a love of animals this is a joyous read, as we get to see an insight into animal behaviour and habits, but in a light and amusing manner. While his writing fosters admiration for the animals, it also does the same for our narrator, and I found myself liking Durrell even more. His writing is thoroughly charming and captivating, and it made me want to quit my job and get a gig as a wildlife ranger or something.


Verdict: Funny, warm and delightful. 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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