Adventures of a Young Naturalist
The Zoo Quest Expeditions
In 1954 a young David Attenborough accepted a commission to travel the world in search of rare and elusive animals to add to London Zoo's collection. Filming his expeditions for the BBC television series Zoo Quest, he stayed with local tribes while trekking in search of giant anteaters in Guyana, Komodo dragons in Indonesia and armadillos in Paraguay. On his return, he recorded his experiences in this memoir, illustrated with black and white photographs, and published here with an introduction he added in 2017. Slightly off-mint.
The Travelling Vet
From Pets to Pandas: My Life with Animals
Jonathan Cranston treats cows, dogs, pigs and cats at his Cotswolds veterinary practice, but he has also had a remarkable career working around the world with species including crocodiles, rhinos and pandas, and as an advisor on the Jurassic World franchise. In this anecdotal collection he shares some of his more peculiar and poignant experiences, which include microchipping armadillos, anaesthetising giraffes, birthing calves, castrating a sugar glider and encountering victims of rhino poaching.
Songs of Love and War
The Dark Heart of Bird Behaviour
From a commentary on the dawn chorus in a Dorset village, with quotations from the poets as well as explanations of the behaviour compelling the birds to sing, to his final, powerful argument for conserving birds’ habitats, Dominic Couzens’s book illuminates the realities of life for songbirds. Here are the grim truths of sparrows killed by sparrowhawks, the aggression inspired by feeding tables and crows made homeless by tree-felling as well the marvels of the skylark’s song and starlings’ murmurations.
Between 1810 and 1811, amateur naturalist George Perry published 22 instalments of Arcana, a magazine dedicated to 'the most recent discovered objects in natural history' from around the world, including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, molluscs and insects. This cleaned-up, chronologically ordered facsimile edition comprises the complete set of original texts, which combine scientific description with entertaining anecdotes, and all 84 exquisitely hand-coloured plates, as well as a collation and systematic review.
The Evolution of Battle
From the horns of dung beetles or the enormous claws of male fiddler crabs to the elaborate antlers of elk, some animals have developed extravagant weapons that seem out of proportion with their size. Evolutionary biologist Douglas Emlen has made a study of the factors that drive the evolution of these extreme specializations and, in this study, draws parallels with the development of military technology in human history, concluding that the governing factors are the same.