Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Beasts in My Belfry” as Want to Read:
Beasts in My Belfry
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Beasts in My Belfry

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,798 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A charming account of Gerald Durrell’s first job as a student keeper in Whipsnade Park in 1945.
Kindle Edition, 185 pages
Published (first published 1970)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Beasts in My Belfry, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Beasts in My Belfry

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,798 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Part of the sequence of autobiographical books that begins with My Family and Other Animals. In this one Durrell starts working in London Zoo and somehow manages to resist the temptation to put on a ripped old uniform leaping out from behind the lion enclosure only tell zoo visitors tall stories about how savage and dangerous the lions are.

Not a classic in the sense of My Family and Other Animals, but still a pleasant read.
"Born in India, Gerald Durrell returned to England when he was three, and five years later, the entire entourage, lead by his intrepid, imperturbable mother, went abroad again, eventually settling in Corfu. From the age of two, he was fascinated by zoology, over the years assembling a large, and not altogether savory, collection of pets, strays, and specimens. As his unofficial zoo grew, so did his family’s discomfort. The solution was to find another, more permanent outlet for his passion. So i ...more
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adults, animal lovers
Recommended to Nora by: Goodreads
This is a humorous laugh out loud piece of nonfiction. I enjoyed Durrell's descriptions of the human animals as well as those of the zoo inhabitants who populate this short gem of a book.
Bruce Smith
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pleasant surprise, audiobook, I knew nothing about this when I checked it out. I found entertaining and informative. I will have to read more about the Durells, and maybe watch the BBC show.
Deepa Rao
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite 'animal story authors' right up there with James Herriot.
Bionic Jean
Durrell joined Whipsnade Zoo as a junior keeper.

(also read April 1995)
Elisha Condie
I'm on a roll here, can't stop. Gerry has grown up a bit and gets his first zoo job at Whipsnade Zoo in England in 1945. He wants to gain experience learning how to care for and observe animals and is a little deflated when things at the zoo seem to run in more of a traditional and less scientific manner. But the place is full of awesome characters and Durrell captures them really well. It's a lot of fun to read about them. I mean, you just can't help but love this guy and everyone he works wit ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book really entertaining. Durrell has a humerous way of writing that I really liked. The dialogue he used when people where speaking was quite funny. The Captain with whom he stayed with during his time at Whipsnade zoo was horrible to his wife though. The language and way he yelled at her really give a clear indication of how times have changed. Her "yes dear" made me cringe. I wish she could have told him where to go.
Some of the zoo practices and the way the animals were captured
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this one! In this short novel Gerald Durrell writes about the days he worked as a junior keeper at Whipsnade Zoo!! The captain was a gem of a character and so were the animals that Durrell worked with. He once again points out the importance of conservation efforts, using examples such as the Pere David Deer and the Hawaiian goose. These 2 species, once on the brink of extinction have been reintroduced to their natural habitat as they have been bred in colonies by trusts or otherwise.
I greatly admire people like Durrell who, from an early age, was so focused on a potential career; especially a career which was so unusual. This book summarises his notes from his first job at Whipsnade Zoo where he was able to make his first observations of wild animals, recognise that zoos needed to become breeding grounds for endangered species and determined his life's goal. An amazing man.
His descriptions of the Captain who ran the Zoo was the highlight for me. The Captain displayed the be
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed to have a more biographical voice than the lyrical story-telling of My Family and Other Animals. Even so, it was a lovely read, as Durrell takes us through his experiences as a young zoo keeper.

I also thought it was an interesting insight into the evolution of zoos and their importance in our current global environment.

If Water for Elephants sparked a curiosity in captive animals, this is your real, analytical reference.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roy McDine
Loved the descriptive storyline with regard to the animals encountered, but found the writing style childlike, and wanted him to get to the point at times.
Marian Fern
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Where Gerald Durrel started his formal training for the great work he did later. A life of adventure and animal conservation
Cassi Camara
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice light read with some up beat animal lover stories. Great first hand depiction of the historical aspects of zoos, what they were about and about those that worked there.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amusing and informative read about the time Gerald Durrell spent at Whipsnade Zoo as a student keeper.
Kathy Stoner
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love these books so much!
K Megha Nambiar
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sort of book that can induce a lasting good mood.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always a good author to read!
Jeremy Trevathan
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
‘After some weeks’ association with Albert I decided that he did not in any way measure up to the popular estimation of what a lion should be. He was sulky, blustery and devoid of any finer feelings whatsoever. His small, golden eyes always had in them an expression of baffled rage; it seemed that he was trying to uphold his race’s reputation for fierceness but could not remember why. There was always a faintly puzzled look about him, as though he were wondering whether it was necessary to behav ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hilarious record that no Durrell fan will want to miss. - Sunday Telegraph

"If you looked you would think that his mind was full of beautiful and poetic thoughts...A ball of food would make its appearance at the base of the long neck and would travel upwards with all the majesty of a department store lift. The ball was generally the size of a coconut and would end its travels by rolling into his mouth. A satisfied expression would replace the look of thoughtful genius and Peter's lower jaw woul
Ian Smith
Tales of Durrells's first year as a trainee zookeeper at Whipsnade zoo, one of the first zoos to attempt to provide space and natural living quarters for their animals (a trend which he somewhat surprisingly debunks towards the end of the book). The result is a lovely blend of observation, anecdote and research - demonstrating that though by now a famous writer and TV celebrity, animals remain his first love. Written some two decades after his time at Whipsnade (presumably to bridge the gap betw ...more
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my faves - After the second world war, Durrell was bumming around London and was hired as a zookeeper at Whipsnade. Each chapter focuses on a different section of the zoo that he worked on, including the strange characters who helped him. There are a couple of laughs like the kid who thinks a tiger is a zebra or the colonel who bellows and guzzles curries.

This book is quite important as it was Durrell's first steps in realising that he could set up his own zo and take it to different leve
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This book is hilarious and educating, I still start laughing from time to time remembering bits and pieces. Durrell is as wonderful as ever, with insights to animal life and human nature alike.
What’s especially great about it is that there are no bugs! I always skipped all the insect containing pages (and there are quite a lot of them…) in all his childhood books, so it’s refreshing to read it page after page. The funniest moments are about the zoo visitors, which make me now very self-consciou
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful! This book is a collection of hilarious anecdotes of Durrell's time as a keeper at Whipsnade Zoo. Durrell's admiration and respect for animals is enchanting. As a naturalist he has wonderful observational skills and as a writer this translates well to paper. The result is a charming book about the wonderful world of animals along with an urgent message to save them. Recommended for anyone who loves animals and enjoys humor.
Ruaraidh Ellison
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastically witty and enthralling memoir, forcing those already interested in animals to fall even more in love with the 'behind the scenes' nature of conservation work. Durrell's writing is inspiring, humorous and always believable, forming human-like relationships with the animals and describe stories is such detail it is as if you have seen it yourself. Simply a must read for all wildlife enthusiasts.
David R. Godine
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A loving chronicle of jitter-bugging gnus, singing duets with a bear, stealing eggs to feed the Arctic foxes, practicing tiger sniffs . . . Highly entertaining and informative.
—The Times

A hilarious record that no Durrell fan will want to miss.
—Sunday Telegraph

Durrell manages to convey not only that he loves animals, but that he enjoys life too – and wants you to enjoy it with him.
—Daily Mirror
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful language and powers of description. Gerald Durrell is a true story teller. I think he could pick any subject and make it fascinating. This is the first book by him that I have read, but I will be getting more of his books and I am looking forward to reading more of his work.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
I love these Gerald Durrell stories of his life before he opened his Zoo in Jersey. These detailed his first real job, as a zoo keeper at Whipsnade zoo in the 1950's. His introduction to all of the different animal categories, and what drove his desire to open his own zoo.
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not nearly as good as his best.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Let Sleeping Vets Lie
  • A Plague of Caterpillars (The Innocent Anthropologist #2)
  • The Beauty of the Beastly
  • Gerald Durrell: The Authorized Biography
  • The Worm Forgives the Plough
  • The Trials of Life: A Natural History of Animal Behavior
  • Bats Sing, Mice Giggle: The Surprising Science of Animals' Inner Lives
  • Zoo Vet: Adventures Of A Wild Animal Doctor
  • Collins Bird Guide
  • Where Do Camels Belong?
  • The Silent World
  • Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall  (War Memoirs, #4)
  • Galahad at Blandings (Blandings Castle, #10)
  • The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995
  • Bay of Spirits: A Love Story
  • Tigers in the Snow
See similar books…
Gerald "Gerry" Malcolm Durrell was born in India in 1925. His elder siblings are Lawrence Durrell, Leslie Durrell, and Margaret Durrell. 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 ...more