Zoo Tails

  • Publish Date: 2002-04-01
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Oliver Graham-Jones

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One puff adder; one antelope; one crocodile. These were the animals on the sick list with which Oliver Graham-Jones was presented on his first day as veterinary officer of London Zoo. It was 1950, and the care of wild animals in zoos was in its infancy. Previously sick animals had been placed in the care of their keepers, kept from public view, and if they didn't respond to traditional medications allowed to pass quietly away. But Oliver was to change all this. A pioneer of many of the techniques now used by vets around the world, he was instrumental in building the first animal hospital, and in moving London Zoo away from its Victorian past into the high-tech world of modern veterinary medicine. In Zoo Tails, he tells us about some of the animals he cared for: what it felt like when he was faced with an escaped bear or an injured elephant; and what he did when called upon to perform a colostomy on a python, or when he was asked to fit one of the ravens in the Tower of London with a wooden leg. If a dangerous animal escaped or required urgent medical attention, Oliver Graham-Jones was always on hand, ready for any eventuality. Frequently describing himself as quaking with fear, he comes across as humane, skilful and most of all incredibly brave. If you are a lover of animals in any shape or form, and My Family and Other Animals was an essential part of your childhood reading, then Zoo Tails is for you. Filled with wonderfully funny stories (with titles like Chased by a Gorilla or A Leopard in the Cabinet Room) which are told with appealingly self-deprecating humour, Zoo Tails deserves to become a classic in animal literature.

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