Introduction

Gerald Durrell’s extract “A day at the Zoo” discusses the delights of owning and maintaining a zoo. He feels that visiting a zoo and owning one are two very different experiences. Working at the zoo is described in detail in this paragraph.

About The Author

Gerald Malcolm Durrell, a British naturalist who lived from 1925 to 1995, rose to international prominence among environmentalists for his pioneering role in keeping and breeding endangered species in zoos with the goal of bringing them back into the wild. He was also a prolific author, having written over 35 books about the animal realm and his adventures in the hunt for endangered species. On the Channel Island of Jersey, he created the “Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust” and the “Jersey Zoo” (now known as “Durrell Wildlife Park”) in 1958.

At The Zoo

The author compares and contrasts living in a zoo and viewing it from the inside with visiting one for a few hours as an outsider. Early in the morning, a day at the zoo begins shortly before dawn. The peahens are getting ready to dance and the birds are singing. The zoo’s workers come around eight o’clock. They exchange greetings and prepare to scrub the entire building with buckets and brushes. In the long, two-story granite mansion where the animals dwell, there is a lot of activity going on. During the cleaning procedure, the gorillas are released from their cage and can be seen galloping around joyously.

A zoo employee, Stephen, keeps watch over them as Mike, another employee, cleans up the mess on the floor and scatters new white sawdust. They ensure that everything is in order. The birds salute from upstairs in the dwelling. A variety of birds, such as parrots and parakeets, mongoose, a hairy armadillo, touracos, and other animals may be seen there. After exiting the birdhouse, one may stroll to the reptiles’ home.   The reptiles slept here at a temperature of 80 degrees. Snakes, lizards, scorpions and frogs were also seen hanging around in this area.

The zoo gate is opened for guests at ten o’clock, and they all rush in. During this period, the entire zoo staff must stay vigilant. This is to guarantee that the people do not harm the animals, not that the animals do not harm the humans. Some humans’ uncivilized behaviour suggested that the animals be taken special care of.  Teasing animals and hurling stones at them if they are sleeping, as well as offering them lit cigarettes and razor blades, are just a few examples. The zoo’s visitor population thins out as the evening progresses.

While the other animals and birds sleep, the owls, who have spent the entire day pretending to be grey tree stumps, open their enormous golden eyes and prepare for their moment. As one lies in bed, one can see the moon moving up the sky, distancing itself from the shadows of the trees. Coughing is heard coming from the lion. Soon it would be daybreak, and the birds’ singing would take over, signalling the start of another day at the zoo.

As a consequence, the narrator discusses in great detail an exciting day at the zoo, as well as the experiences of zoo employees.