30th January 1995

Conservationist Gerald Durrell dies

Gerald Durrell will be remembered as one of the greatest conservationists of his age. When he died, aged 70, his ashes were buried at the zoo he founded in Jersey. What made that zoo different was its focus, less on entertainment and ticket sales, but conservation through the careful breeding of endangered species.

His obituary in The Independent explained that “at Jersey, Durrell and his colleagues have acknowledged that this information [short stats, as found in most zoos] is interesting in itself, but have emphasised a more crucial reality, that the future of the animal on view is dependent on the choices the observer makes in the next 20 years: if you buy hardwood furniture or if you show no concern for sensible land use then this beautiful animal is going to disappear in the wild”.

A childhood abroad

Durrell’s early life on Corfu was televised in the ITV drama, The Durrells, but he had previously spent time in India, where he was born, and Britain. He finally settled in Jersey, having visited in the late 1950s, by which time he already had a significant collection of animals looking for a permanent home.

Durrell died of complications following a liver transplant, but his legacy continues, both in the zoo and its associated preservation and awareness raising activities, and in the series of humorous books that he published during his lifetime.


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