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The Overloaded Ark

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  819 ratings  ·  19 reviews
This book describes an expedition to the remote territory of the Cameroons in West Africa, before independence.
Published November 1st 1998 by Chivers Audio Books (first published 1953)
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Durrell's books are so funny and absorbing; loaded with delightfully, engagingly anthropomorphic portraits of the rare animals he is collecting to finance his private zoo in the Isle of Jersey. This collecting trip takes place in Cameroon, in the rainforest not far from where the first African violet was discovered.

In fact that connection is why I recently decided to re-read it. While teaching a class on the rainforest to 1st & 2nd graders this year, I realized that I had actually read quit
Ian Smith
Wonderful first book by Gerald Durrell - and one I remember reading many years ago as a boy with enormous pleasure. Re-reading recently brought back many of those memories, but also raised eyebrows. Clearly a book of its time; it would be nigh on impossible (and thoroughly illegal) to repeat the exploits described, and tipping workers with tobacco is hardly healthy! However, the anecdotes are delightful, his joy in nature is infectious, and the writing is beautiful, though nowhere near as well d ...more
Sonia Gomes
Jan 07, 2010 Sonia Gomes rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love humour
I do not think, Durrell would have been able to bring animals from the Cameroons to England, in this day and age !
But the book is hilarious and still brings a smile, after all these years whenever I read a chapter.
Gerald Durrell books are worth re-reading.
Durrell's voice is winsome, I think, and a little wry, which to my ear dates more slowly than some other, more proper and ponderous nature writers. I've seen other reviewers complaining about the use of pidgin and the colonial attitude evinced by the author, but it strikes me as perfectly accurate to the early 1950s. There are also parts about the trapping, keeping, and selling animals I find unsavoury but true to the times. On the whole, though, his sheer love of wildlife wins the day for me, a ...more
Liz Vega
So good! Wish I had read it as a kid!
It stood quite still, regarding me thoughtfully, and the tip of its tail moved very gently among the grass stalks. I had seen domestic cats looking like this at sparrows, twitching their tails, and I did not feel very happy about it. Also, I was stark naked, and I have found that in moments of crisis to have no clothes on gives one a terribly unprotected feeling. I glared at the Serval, wishing that I had my shorts on and that I could think of some way of capturing it without the risk of being d ...more
If you want a retro look into 1950's animal collecting this is the book for you.
However keeping in mind it's from the 50's, the racism runs rampant.
Also the level of zoological knowledge is very low ,compared to what we know now,and several animals are lost because of this.
The best part of the book are the sketches and descriptions of some very rare animals.

On a whim I picked up my parents' old paperback and gave it a read. It's a page-turner. Great at describing flora/fauna of the west African jungle. But OH how the patronizing, patrician attitudes of the imperial British are evident on every page.
This is a nice and interesting book about animals, Africa and a couple of animal collectors. Full of colorful nature and genuine adventures. It a was a great time reading this book. I am sure to continue reading Durrel sometime later.
J. D.
Upon rereading this book by a renowned zoologist an conservatioist,
after 54 years, this worked retains all the freshness of my first reading. Entertaining, informative, and nostalgic.
This book was pretty dated but still a good read. I always love the way Durrell describes the environments and animals, and his obvious love for nature.
Aaron Haugh
A beautifully eloquent account of one mans adventures collecting animals in the British Cameroons. Highly recommended.
This was a very funny tale of Gerald Durrell collecting animals from the Cameroon in the 1950's, for Zoo's.
Wonderful, full of humour. That he was enchanted by the Cameroons and the wildlife shines through.
Durrell's account of his expedition to the Cameroons in West Africa in 1953, before Independence.
Margot Carroll
I definitely liked it a lot but is it bad i cant figure out if ive read twice now? heheh
Very funny I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sep 14, 2013 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Gerald Durrell was born in India in 1925. His family settled on Corfu when Durrell was a boy and he spent his time studying its wildlife. He relates these experiences in the trilogy beginning with My Family and Other Animals, and continuing with Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. In his books he writes with wry humour and great perception about both the humans and the animals ...more
More about Gerald Durrell...
My Family and Other Animals (Corfu Trilogy, #1) Birds, Beasts, and Relatives (Corfu Trilogy, #2) A Zoo in My Luggage The Corfu Trilogy The Garden of the Gods (Corfu Trilogy, #3)

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“As I watched the pulsing fire among the trees and heard the beat of the drum merge and tremble with the voices, forming an intricate pattern of sound, I knew that someday I would have to return or be haunted forever by the beauty and mystery that is Africa.” 4 likes
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